We are one step closer to paying 5 cents for every bag we are GIVEN at checkout by stores in Howard County…The Howard County Bag Tax Bill (known as: “Howard County – Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags Ho. Co. 04-19”) received a “Favorable Report” by the Environment and Transportation Committee in the House of Delegates and the bill continues to move forward.

The final vote in committee was 17 – 6…here is a screenshot of the vote:

I was not surprised that this passed in committee…not a single member of the committee was from Howard County…so it has no political ramifications on them to pass this bill that does little to “change the behavior” of shoppers and provides a nice revenue source for this county on the backs of shoppers in THIS county.

So the bill moves forward…I will be interested to see what the full House of Delegates does with this vote…I full well expect it to pass…and so looking forward to watching who votes yes and who votes no….especially those that that run in elections here in Howard County. Here is how the Delegates from Howard County voted previously:

Yes: Watson, Ebersole, Feldmark, Hill, Terrasa, Atterbeary, Pendergrass

No: Miller, Kittleman

This was the next big step in the bag tax coming to Howard County…there are still many more steps to go before this becomes a reality…but this keep the ball rolling towards a tax on all shoppers for a product GIVEN to us at checkout by the stores.

Anyone that has read the report from the Spending and Affordability Committee in Howard County can see the writing on the wall…given this opportunity to add more revenue for the county…if this passes in Annapolis and allows the county to write and pass a bill to implement this TAX on shoppers locally to increase revenue…there is probably little chance they will pass up the opportunity…even with the restrictions on how the money can be used…because there all always ways around that as DC proved in the past. I hope I am wrong on that statement…but the more I see and read the more I feel that we are headed that way.

If you want some revenue figures that are SIGNIFICANTLY underestimated…go check out the HoCoTimes article from March 12th: “an estimated $290,000 annually if each household purchased one bag per week…If each household purchased three bags per week, the county would receive $870,000 annually”. One to three bags per week per household are the numbers they reference…think about that for a second… this TAX could possibly cover every type of shopping (depending on the final bill passed by the County Council)…so only RECEIVE and be taxed for 1 to 3 bags for your shopping at grocery stores, Walmart, Target, food carryout, stores at the mall, convenience stores, CVS, Walgreens and just about any other store in a week…does that sound like good estimate numbers to reference? It seems shockingly low to me.

I was happy to read at the END of that HoCoTimes article the Montgomery County numbers referenced…a 3.2% disposable bag sales increase between 2014 and 2015…proving once again that this TAX does not significantly “change the behavior” of shoppers over time and does not make significant (or any) reductions in the number of bags distributed and taxed at checkout year in and year out. Odd that they did not mention the significant increase from 2016 to 2017 (revenue jumped from $2.48 million to $2.61 million…a much bigger jump than the 2014 to 2015 numbers)…but maybe they did not have those specific numbers for the article.

I understand not everyone agrees with me on this topic…I am OK with it. We may just have different approaches to this issue. I will say now and continue to advocate for a plastic bag ban…make the stores in this county provide us another option to combat this issue…do not tax us for being provided a product from the stores…an approach that has proven not to show significant reductions in the number of bags provided at checkout year in and year out after the implementation of the tax.

I promise to continue to follow this bill going forward.

Scott E

4 COMMENTS

  1. They (Watson, Ebersole, Feldmark, Hill, Terrasa, Atterbeary, Pendergrass) think the voters will not remember this new tax in 3 yrs. That is not counting all of the other offensive laws they will pass in the next couple years.

    More people use fabric bags so the revenue will not be there.
    Once, again, the poorer people in Howard Co. will be the most affected.

    Since, we started with a new (rookie) slate on the HoCo Council, maybe it will be a new slate in 3 yrs.

    The voters cut the politicians some slack when they pass some of the intrusive laws but it eventually makes it necessary to vote them out of office.

    So, will the voters ‘bag’ (throw them out of office) in 3 yrs.??
    I would be surprised if 1/2 of our Annapolis House delegation (Watson, Ebersole, Feldmark, Hill, Terrasa, Atterbeary, Pendergrass) get re-elected in the next election. They are becoming too radical for the majority of HoCo Democratic voters.

  2. I live near Elkridge. If they tax bags in Howard, I’ll just cross the county line and do my shopping in Anne Arundel. Problem solved. If I’m not mistaken, gas is also cheaper down that way too.

    But thanks for this report. It’s nice to know what politicians do when they’re not bending over for developers.

  3. Scott:

    Sorry you are opposed to such a progressive idea. I would love to have you come and visit us in DC to see how well it is working. This is not a tax, it brings forward an overhead expense and allows shoppers to make a choice whether to take a bag and pay for it or bring their own.

    The genesis for this is our trash traps where we were finding many bags in the streams. If we were finding nuclear reactors that is what we would be working to get out of the streams.

    Join us in supporting common sense trash reduction strategies.

    For the River,

    Jim

    • Because the number of bags taxed and distributed in DC have gone down every year…oh wait…no it has not: https://scotteblog.com/2018/12/07/washington-dc-bag-tax-revenue-increases-every-year/

      DC Bag Fee Revenue Fiscal Year Revenue ($)

      2010* 1,510,088.35
      2011 1,845,313.25
      2012 1,993,183.22
      2013 2,001,575.50
      2014 2,084,613.59
      2015 2,236,275.44
      2016 2,284,104.15
      2017 2,382,747.11
      *Partial fiscal year from January to October
      A key fact with these numbers…the bag tax fee has not increased since 2010…but the revenue has gone up each and every year.

      This TAX on the shoppers has not made SIGNIFICANT changes in shopping behavior in DC…which is how it is being pushed here in Howard County.

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