Very late in the evening of December 2nd the Howard County Council passed CB64-2019 (the plastic bag fee legislation). The final vote was 4 – 1 (Yungmann voting no).

There were three amendments to the original legislation also discussed and voted upon:

Amendment 1 from Councilmember Jones (This would double the money that stores are allowed to keep from the fee to 1 cent for every bag they distribute to you and I at checkout. The other 4 cents would go to the county). This passed 5 – 0.

Amendment 2 from Councilmember Jones (This would push back the start of this fee on shoppers to October 1, 2020). This passed 5 – 0.

Amendment 3 from Councilmember Jung (This would switch the fee on shoppers to a ban on plastic bags starting in July of 2021). This failed 2 – 3 (voting yes: Jung and Walsh | voting no: Rigby, Jones and Yungmann)

There was a 4th amendment from Councilmember Jung that would provide relief from this fee for those shoppers receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other similar programs. The motion to add it to the discussion failed to receive enough votes…for even the discussion much less an actual vote yes or no on the amendment.

I knew that advocating against this legislation was going to be an uphill battle and one that would probably not succeed. I did what I could to provide real data to the discussion..not survey data, not subsets of data points…but actual data from other local jurisdictions like Montgomery County and Washington DC.

This is no longer my fight…it is a done deal. It is happening.

Some will celebrate this fee coming to Howard County in October of 2020. They will tell you that the number of bags leaving stores in the county will decrease significantly year in and year out. I look forward to seeing the actual data in the future. One thing we can be sure of…money was a part of all of this as it was reported last night that after the first year an estimated $685,400 in annual revenue is expected to be generated for the county from this fee on shoppers.

The video of the meeting is not online yet this morning…when it is online I will update this article with a link so you can all watch the discussions and votes.

Article update: Here is a link to the video of the meeting. The plastic bag fee discussion start around the 3:42:00 mark of the video.

I look forward to the comments from our County Executive on this issue when it hits his desk for signature. He could still veto it (he has with other legislation since taking this office) and send it back to the County Council but to be honest I do not expect him to do so at this point.

On to the next big issue…not sure what that will be for me just yet but I am sure I will find one in the near future. Budget season for the county and the schools is quickly approaching and that may give me many items to discuss with the community.

Scott E