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Friday, November 25, 2011

PG Taxers: Co Exec Baker, Council members Lehman, Turner, Toles, seek to impose new "bag tax" in PG County

Comment: These people will use any excuse possible to justify their relentless quest to reach into our pockets and snatch more money from us.  Coming soon: A separate site devoted to tracking PG Taxers in 2012.

Prince George's County Council begins campaign for bag tax.
Examiner, 24 Nov 2011 (Giles).
Prince George's County Council members have begun a push for a disposable bag tax, similar to a 5-cent tax used in neighboring jurisdictions.

The District has had a 5-cent tax on disposable bags since the beginning of 2010, and Montgomery County will begin charging a 5-cent tax on Jan. 1.

Unlike Montgomery County, which has its own taxing authority, Prince George's requires the General Assembly's permission to implement new taxes.

State Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George's, and Del. Barbara Frush, D-Prince George's, plan to introduce legislation in January that would give county officials the authority to set the tax. Efforts to pass a similar bill failed earlier this year after it was introduced too late in the legislative session, Frush said.

Details of the bag tax would be left up to the County Council to decide, such as how high the tax should go and which stores would charge the tax.

A tax on disposable paper and plastic bags could cut down on the county's environmental cleanup costs, said Councilwoman Mary Lehman, D-Laurel. The county spends more than $2.5 million a year on litter pickup, she said.

It's not clear where revenue from the tax would go. The District puts its earnings into the Anacostia River Protection Fund to help with river cleanup efforts. A bag tax in Prince George's likely would go into the county's general fund, Lehman said.

"It makes budgeting too difficult," she said. "It's good in theory, but in these tough budget times, I'm just saying it's difficult politically and physically to designate funds."

To help promote the tax, Lehman, with County Executive Rushern Baker, Council Chairwoman Ingrid Turner, D-Bowie, and Councilwoman Karen Toles, D-Suitland, handed out more than 15,000 reusable bags on Tuesday at grocery stores and civic centers across the county. The Department of Environmental Resources chipped in $6,000 to spend on 4,000 bags and an environmental flier, and the County Council spent $3,450 for another 2,500 bags from council staff budgets.
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