Montgomery County Considers Rolling Back Bag Tax

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The Montgomery County Council is considering making changes to its 5-cent bag tax. (Credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

The Montgomery County Council is considering making changes to its 5-cent bag tax. (Credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — The Montgomery County Council is considering a bill that would roll back a portion of the county’s bag tax.

The council listened to opponents and proponents of the 5-cent bag tax on carryout bags during a public hearing Tuesday night in Rockville.

The bag tax, which went into effect last year, currently is in place for most retail stores and carryout food. The proposed changes would make the tax apply only to food stores, which are defined as any retail store where food consists of more than 2 percent of gross sales by dollar value.

The changes would repeal the tax on plastic bags used for take-out food.

Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner said the bag tax has been beneficial since its enforcement a year and a half ago, but should be focused on food stores.

“You simply don’t see bags from a Nordstrom’s in our streams,” Berliner said.

Some stores also complained that it’s harder to keep people carrying bags from shoplifting.

Maura Kathan, who works in retail, said she doesn’t buy that argument, but added that her company has purchased fewer bags since they started asking, “Do you need a bag?”

“It’s a huge question that people hear and then think, ‘Oh, do I actually need a bag? No, I don’t.’” Kathan said.

County Executive Ike Leggett sent Director of Environmental Protection Bob Hoyt to make clear how much he opposes this bill.

“It’s making a difference environmentally, (and) it’s making a difference in people’s behavior,” Hoyt said.

The bill will be taken up at a work session July 8 — if it gets that far.

WNEW’s George Mesthos contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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