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Bag tax: Montgomery County passes 5-cent bag tax

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It looks like Montgomery County will follow one of D.C.’s measure to increase funds. The county council passed a bag tax similar to the District's, but more expansive.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Unlike the resistance the measure met in the city, the people we spoke with in Montgomery County appear to be more agreeable to the bag tax.

The county plans to level a 5 cent tax on each bag, plastic or paper, to go in effect January 1st.

Grocery shopping can include a lot of them, as Pat Kagan knows. She was carrying about a dozen plastic bags Tuesday. Under the new tax, that would cost her sixty cents.

“I understand everyone is hurting for money and I know the budget problems,” Kagan said. “I probably won’t buy bags anymore. I'll just take my reusable ones.”

The funds raised by the bag tax in D.C. flow into cleaning up the Anacostia River. The tax aims to cut down on bag use in general.

In Montgomery County, the revenue will go toward protecting water and buying reusable bags for the poor and elderly. Unlike in D.C., the tax will extend to almost all retail outlets, not just those that sell food. The bag tax is expected to raise about a million dollars it's first year.

County Executive Isiah Leggett thanked the council for approving the tax Tuesday, and said before it goes into effect “we will work to educate residents to help them be prepared for the transition to having re-useable bags become part of their shopping routine.” He said the tax was meant to increase environmental awareness.

“If it makes people stop and thing and if people do have bags that they can use over and over again, then it's a step in the right direction,” said Steward Ash, who lives in Germantown.

Small business owner Helen Becraft thinks the bag tax will be just one more headache. “I would hope that nobody had to go through this book keeping nightmare keeping tack of bags,” said Becraft of a Germantown craft shop.

Some shoppers have already shifted to reusable bags and say it's not a hassle. “It's good for the environment,” said Jan Morganweathers of Rockville.

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