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Proposed California Anti-Plastic Straw Bill Draws Fire

SACRAMENTO — A California lawmaker is taking flak for a measure that would make it illegal for servers to offer plastic straws with drinks unless they're asked.

Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon introduced a bill last week making unsolicited straw-providing a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, Calderon says it will be amended to eliminate the penalties.

The measure would apply to sit-down restaurants, not bars or fast-food places.

As expected, critics have heaped scorn, calling it government overkill.

"If you are the waite,r you are going to get thrown in jail for even offering one? I mean this is how far it has gone in California," fellow assemblyman and Republican candidate for governor Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, said.

But the bill has a serious purpose. Calderon says it's aimed at reducing the environmental damage from tons of plastic that wind up each year in U.S. landfills, waterways and the ocean.

In Sacramento, Hoppy Brewing Company owner Troy Paski says his brewpub phased out plastic spoons and straws years ago.

"The straws that we use here an eco-friendly product. They are made out of spun cornstarch," Paski said.

Paski says the cost of biodegradable straws is more expensive, but he says that's his choice as a business owner and questioned the necessity for legislation.

"We don't need laws and rules for everything on this planet," Paski said. "I mean somewhere along the way you need common sense."