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California seeks to be first state to limit plastic straws

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — If you want a straw with your drink, you soon may have to ask for it at California restaurants.

Lawmakers on Thursday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure that supporters say would make California the first state to bar full-service restaurants from giving out single-use plastic straws unless customers request them. It wouldn’t ban straws as some cities have in a bid to combat waste.

San Francisco and Seattle passed plastic straw bans earlier this year, drawing ire from conservatives who see the restrictions as government overreach and liberals who say outlawing straws hurts disabled people.

The California measure, which passed the Assembly 45-20, is part of a larger trend in cities across the United States that are banning plastic bags, plastic utensils and other plastic goods to reduce ocean pollution.

Democratic California Assemblyman Ian Calderon described his measure, AB1884, as a small step toward reducing plastic use and fighting pollution. It would apply only to full-service restaurants, not fast food establishments.

Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez said she doesn’t believe the measure would effectively curb ocean pollution and would unfairly punish restaurants.

Restaurants would be warned for first and second violations and fined $25 per day for subsequent infractions, with an annual fine limit of $300.

Calderon says the measure would not be overly burdensome on businesses. The restaurant industry didn’t oppose it.