City Council considers plastic bag surcharge
“They charge you for everything now,” said shopper Cheryl Sheffield. “It’s not right, but what are you going to do? You need to carry your groceries home.”A lot of customers choose to carry their purchase out by hand to avoid a five cent fee.”I think the bag tax stinks, honestly. Why tax us for grocery bags when we are paying for the food and stuff to put in the bag?” said Baltimore resident Ronald Lewis.That may become the reality in Baltimore City after a bill to implement plastic bag fees was voted out of committee on Wednesday and sent to the full council. It imposes a five cent surcharge on plastic bags at supermarkets and other shops. The idea is to reduce litter while raising money to clean up city parks and the Inner Harbor.”I think that it’s a lot; however, I think it’s good because it helps us to recycle, and then it will get me to get my recycle bag out of the trunk of my car,” said city resident Claudette Gadsden Hrobak.Some discount grocery stores like Save a Lot have charged for plastic bags for years 10 cents for large bags and 3 cents for small ones.”People haven’t been refusing to go there?” 11 News reporter George Lettis asked resident Marnetta Baker. She replied, “No, and it’s cheap there, so people go there.”The company uses the bag fees to pump up its profits.The proposed legislation says retailers would keep about a penny of the 5 cent fee. The rest would go to the city about $1.5 million in the first year, according to a city estimate.In the past, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said she’d sign a bag fee bill. This week, she qualified that a bit, saying her support ultimately depends on the final language. She seemed lukewarm about raising more fees on residents.”I will always have concerns about imposing more taxes and fees. I had to do a significant amount of that to climb out of the great recession, so I’m always cautious about that,” Rawlings Blake said.The measure goes before the full council for a vote Monday. Sponsor James Kraft is confident it will pass.Vaping ban also being consideredThe City Council is also considering a bill that would ban vaping in most public places, including playgrounds and inside public buildings. The legislation is making its way through City Hall as electronic cigarettes are gaining in popularity but remain largely unregulated.The proposal would make exceptions for vape shops and bars and restaurants that allow E cigarettes.If it passes, Baltimore would join other big cities like Boston and New York, which have already banned E cigarettes in places where regular cigarettes aren’t allowed.