Delegate Adam Ebbin, whose 49th district covers Arlington and parts of Fairfax and Alexandria, is busy at work on legislation he will introduce during this years General Assembly session which begins January 13, 2010. The legislation will impose a $ .05 tax on plastic grocery bags used and is modeled after the recent District of Columbia law.
Maryland and Virginia lawmakers say they will push for 5-cent fees on disposable paper and plastic bags at stores, after the District this month became the first major city in the nation to impose such a fee.
“The environmental clean-up cost is the primary reason why we’re introducing this in Virginia,” said Del. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat who represents parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties, as well as part of Alexandria.
Del. Alfred Carr, a Democrat who represents Montgomery County, plans to introduce similar legislation in the Maryland General Assembly.
“We need to do this as a region,” Carr said.
The proposals follow a new D.C. law that that charges 5 cents for disposable bags. Funds from that fee will go toward cleaning up the Anacostia River. Shoppers can skip the fee by bringing their own bags or not using any at all. Stores may offer a 5-cent credit on a customer’s bill for every bag brought.
The revenues in Virginia would be divided between retailers and the Virginia Water Quality Improvement fund, Ebbin said. Stores would recoup 1 or 2 cents of the fee, depending on whether they already have an incentive program for consumers.
The breakdown would be the same for Maryland, Carr said.
Ebbin noted that the proposal would represent a consumer choice, since shoppers can decide whether to invest in the water fund, adding that there is a “rising consumer interest in protecting the environment.”
Both delegates introduced similar legislation last year, but the District’s precedent makes the proposals more likely to pass this year, Carr said. The proposal will be introduced in the Maryland Senate by Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, he added.
There would be an exception for bags carrying hot takeout food from restaurants, Carr said. There were no plans to charge for carryout bags in Virginia, either, but the bill was still being finalized, Ebbin said.
Area stores have been prepping for the new D.C. law, which took effect Jan. 1. For example, CVS is partnering with the District’s Department of the Environment to offer 112,000 free reusable bags at city pharmacies.
With Republicans firmly in control of the General Assembly, I really don’t see this new tax on the public going anywhere. What are your thoughts?