Baltimore City Council to Take Up Bag Tax Legislation

Legislation to impose a 5 cent fee on each plastic bag used at a grocery store and other merchant locations received approval by a Baltimore City Council committee this week.  The full Baltimore City Council is scheduled to take up the measure Monday, November 10.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

A majority of City Council members support the bill. And Councilman James B. Kraft, the bill’s sponsor, who has spent a decade pushing for the measure as way to reduce litter, said he is confident that the fee will pass.

But several council members raised concerns about a new fee after Tuesday’s election, in which Republican Larry Hogan won the gubernatorial race. Hogan had put a spotlight on what he characterized as high taxes and government-imposed fees.

According to the bill’s sponsor, the bill has been introduced to change behavior, not generate revenue.

Under Kraft’s bill, retailers would keep a penny and a half for each plastic bag to offset their costs. The rest — an estimated $1.5 million in the first year — would go to city coffers.

Kraft said he wants the money raised to clean up the harbor and city parks, though he said the measure isn’t intended to be a money-maker but to discourage the use of plastic bags.

If approved by the Council, the measure would take effect April 1, 2015.