Capitol Food Fight

It's a food fight at California's Capitol. 

More accurately, a battle over plastic food packaging.  But it's just part of a bigger conflict in Sacramento over how best to improve California's weak job picture and nurture our fragile economy.

At issue are those Styrofoam containers we've all gotten used to when picking up to-go orders at restaurants and food vendors. 

I thought they just kept cold food cold, hot food hot, and kept that sauce off your car seat.

Turns out, they're also at the center of a spirited political fight.

Senate Bill 58 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would ban eating establishments from using Styrofoam packaging outright, beginning in 2016. 

That is, unless a local program is able to recycle the material at a 60 percent rate.

Supporters, which include the California League of Conservation Voters and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, say the intent is to reduce litter.

It's not good news to Rose Hanke, co-owner of an East Sacramento cafe.

"It's definitely more expensive," Hanke says, to use other types of to-go packaging.  She believes the switch would force higher menu prices.

Opponents, which include the California Restaurant Association, say alternative packaging costs two to three times more. Some  8,000 manufacturing jobs are also at stake, they say.

SB568 is part of a list of what the California Chamber of Commerce has dubbed "job killer" bills that lawmakers will tackle when they return from vacation next week.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, tells Prop Zero that the final weeks of the session will focus on "reducing the unemployment rate."

The plastics bill is seen as one test of that intent. 

Meantime, enjoy that smothered burrito to go.

Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @PropZero or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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