Santa Barbara: HIV? No Problem! Plastic Straw? Felony.

Santa Barbara, CA. – The City of Santa Barbara has passed an ordinance that allows restaurant employees to be punished with up to six months of jail time or a $1,000 fine for giving plastic straws to their customers.

Santa Barbara’s ordinance is certainly the most severe straw ban in the country. Although Seattle banned plastic straws earlier this month, mandating a $250 fine for violators, Santa Barbara has taken it further than Seattle. The city has banned not only plastic straws, but also compostable straws.

And, get this, each individual straw counts as a separate infraction. That means if some poor sod at In-N-Out Burger is the target of an undercover straw sting and hands out straws to a table of four people, that person is facing years behind bars.

Tourists and college students can forget ordering the popular punch bowls at Baja Sharkeez on State Street.

Knowingly Exposing HIV is a Misdemeanor

The straw ban is even more outrageous and confounding if viewed through the state’s position on transmitting HIV.

Last October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that lowered the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection from a felony to a misdemeanor .

Remarkably, the bill also covers those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.

The bill was authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Assemblyman Todd Gloria of San Diego.

When the bill was passed, Weiner said, “Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals. HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”
UPDATE: Santa Barbara’s plastic-straw ban imposes criminal penalties after the second offense.