Bag tax probably coming to Prince George's County

The Prince George's County bag tax passed its biggest hurdle last week bringing it one step closer to a store near you.

If the General Assembly approves the measure it is likely Council members will do the same and customers would soon pay 5 cents for each disposable plastic or paper bag.

"I think initially it's difficult because you don't remember, but after you pay 5 cents a few times, you'll remember to take in your bags with you," said District resident Danielle Felix.

Felix says she's now used to the drill and says she's all for the 5 cent bag tax to cross over into Prince George's County.

"Plastic bags, you've seen them for years and they're flying around everywhere, so getting rid of them I don't think is a bad idea at all," Felix said.

Prince George's County lawmakers seem to agree.

"There's really strong support for using the revenue for environmental purposes and that's what I'm going to push very hard for," said Mary Lehman, Council member for District 1.

Lehman stood behind the bill from the beginning. While it received overwhelming support from her colleagues, the measure struggled within the General Assembly until last Friday when the County's House delegation voted to push it through.

"We have 23 members so you need a simple majority vote and we got 12 in favor and that's what we needed," Lehman said.

The county needs to take the extra steps because it doesn't have its own taxing authority. With a nearing Senate delegation vote, Lehman remains optimistic that they'll move forward.

"This is not about revenue, this is not going to generate much in the way of revenue," Lehman said. "It's about changing people's habits and getting people to bring their own bag to the store and cleaning up the environment."

The Washington Post reports that neighboring Montgomery County collected more than $150,000 in the first month of the program.

The proposal still has its critics.

"If a customer is coming to spend money in the store, they're supposed to provide free bags to take their products home," said College Park resident Daniel Dimoh.

But others are ready to go green.

"A tiny bit more money in bag taxes is a lot less of a burden than the billions and billions of dollars we're going to have to spend in cleaning up the environment," said Greenbelt resident Philip Cromwell.

If the measure finally reaches the PG County Council, the bag tax could go into effect by the fall.