SoCal Lawmaker Introduces Bill Barring Servers From Offering Plastic Straws at Restaurants Unless Asked

A California lawmaker recently introduced legislation that would prohibit servers from offering plastic straws at sit-down restaurants unless one is requested.

Assembly Bill 1884, proposed by Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, would make providing a straw without being asked punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000, under the existing California Retail Food Code.

That law states, "except as otherwise provided, a person who violates any provision of the code to be guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both."

However, Calderon noted the law would eventually be amended to eliminate the tough penalties.

"The penalties are attached to the code section the bill is currently in. That will change. Amendments are part of the legislative process," he responded in a tweet when specifically asked about the $1,000 fine.

The law would only apply to sit-down restaurants, and not bars and fast-food restaurants, according to the bill.

Calderon also emphasized the bill isn't a ban on plastic straws. The law's intention, he said, is not to make it a crime for servers to hand out plastic straws.

Instead, the bill is aimed at reducing the environmental damage from plastic that winds up in landfills, waterways and ocean, as well as to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of straws, according to Calderon.

About 500 million straws are used every day in the U.S., a news release from his office stated.