New year brings new laws and fares

Shoppers in Montgomery County will have to pay a little extra for plastic bags this year.

The new year means new laws are now in effect and many of them will cost you more money.

In Montgomery County, all retailers{ }are required to collect 5 cents for each paper or plastic bag they provide to customers. Retailers get to keep 1 cent. The tax, mirrored after the District’s plan, is intended to encourage the use of reusable bags and will help fund the county’s litter cleanup initiative.

The new charge is something that Rita Harding is not happy about.

“I think that the public should have a voice and we should've been able to vote on it,” she said.

D.C. implemented the fee two years ago to raise money for the Anacostia River clean up. In Montgomery County, the money raised also will be used for cleaning up local waterways.

"Not a big fan, said Montgomery County resident Kevin August. "I know they say four cents will go to clean up the bay, but I doubt that's going to happen."

The biggest difference between D.C.'s fees and Montgomery County's tax is where the tax is charged. In D.C., only stores that sell food and drinks charge the fee. In Montgomery County, every store and just about every bag, except the bags prescriptions and muffins come in, will apply the tax.

In both jurisdictions, the reason lawmakers say they approved the fee is not to raise money, but to change behavior and encourage people to stop using disposable bags.

From the goods to getting home, it will also now cost a bit more if you take the Dulles Toll Road. The new rate is $1.50 – up 25 cents.

“If you take it every day and within the year, I guess that would be a lot of money,” a commuter said.

The additional money will be used to help pay for improvements along the toll road and construction of the Dulles Metro Project.

The new year brings additional bad news for commuters: tax-free transit benefits will be slashed by nearly half.

Since Congress failed to extend the benefits before the end of the year, the $230 per month in pre-tax money that commuters could set aside for transit use is set to fall to $125.