The Assembly has rejected legislation that would make California the first state to impose a ban on single-use plastic bags, but the bill could be heard again later this week.
SB270 failed Monday on a 37-33 vote after an hour-long debate.
The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles prohibits stores from carrying the bags as a way to encourage reusable ones. It follows about 100 cities and counties that previously banned plastic bags to fight litter.
Both plastic and paper bag manufacturers have lobbied against the bill, highlighting a 10-cent fee on reusable bags. Republicans and some Democrats representing low-income districts say the fee unfairly penalizes consumers.
If it were to become law, SB270 would take effect in 2015 for larger stores and 2016 for convenience stores.