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Using Grocery Bags Could Soon Cost You

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plastic bags, paper bags, tax

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Earth Day 2012

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–It could soon cost you more money to carry your groceries home in plastic bags.

Kai Jackson explains why one lawmaker is calling for an added tax.

The lawmaker proposing the tax says it’s going to help Maryland clean up the environment. Others see it as just another wallet busting bill.

Many of us probably don’t give much thought to the number of bags we have in the checkout line at a store. But that might change in the future.

Montgomery County Delegate Al Carr will propose a bill this session to charge a nickel for each paper or plastic bag customers take from a Maryland store. Carr says something has to be done to cut down on pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

“A lot of people find ways to reuse the bags, but the fact is that a very, very large number of them still end up as litter,” Carr said.

“Tonight I went to the grocery store and I didn’t plan on it. I’m usually not going to be carrying a bag around with me,” said Ramin Bagheri of Hampden.

Locally owned Santoni’s Supermarket opposes the bill.

“It would have a negative impact because it would take food dollars out of Maryland residents’ pockets, thus reducing sales for businesses like Santoni’s and other food dealers,” said Rob Santoni, Santoni’s market.

The full bill is called the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Consumer Retail Choice Act. In a nutshell, it’s designed to keep paper and plastic out of the bay and off the planet.

Carr and environmentalists would like to see people with reusable bags. He says a similar bill passed in Washington, D.C., and he believes it’s actually helped business.

“I don’t think too many are going to like it because I think we’re being taxed enough, but what can you do?” said Wilbert Thompson of Northeast Baltimore.

Carr says the bill will help businesses because paper and plastic bags are an overhead expense.

If passed, the nickel tax would exempt bags at farmers’ markets and those given by roadside vendors.

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