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MD Considers Bag Tax

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Maryland legislators are proposing a bag tax modeled after D.C.'s 5 cent bag fee.
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Maryland legislators are proposing a bag tax modeled after D.C.'s 5 cent bag fee.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

Legislators in Maryland are proposing a bag tax modeled after D.C.'s 5 cent bag fee, and the plan is raising similar controversy.

Montgomery County Delegate Al Carr proposed the idea: A 5 cent tax on any paper or plastic bag, the money goes to restoring the Chesapeake Bay. He, and many environmental groups, argue it will cut down on pollution.

"There are a great number of bags that end up as litter, in the streams, in the creeks and in the Chesapeake Bay," says Carr.

Jeff Zellmer is with the Maryland Retailers Association, he says the tax would be an unfair burden on the poor - he also says it won't work.

"This tax will not clean up the litter, the litter is caused by individuals and persons, the bags themselves do not litter," says Zellmer.

Jong Yang runs Kalorama Deli in the District, where the bag tax went into effect in January. She says at first, customers walked out rather than paying the fee. But she says, they eventually got used to it and few people now use disposable bags.

Safeway reports anecdotal evidence that bag use is down by half. A House committee vote on the bill is expected in the next two weeks.

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