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Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Va. legislators say no to bag tax

By Associated Press

Virginia legislators have defeated a proposal aimed at curbing pollution and waste by imposing fees on the use of plastic bags, but bill sponsors are vowing to bring the issue up again next year.

A measure that would have required stores to charge customers a 5-cent tax on paper bags and disposable plastic bags died last week in a House of Delegates subcommittee after strong opposition from the retail and chemical manufacturers' lobbies.

"It might be dead this year, but I'll be back like a virus," said Del. Joe Morrissey, D-Highland Springs and a sponsor of one of the bills, which was combined with another measure. "I think it's something that really couldn't be more nonpartisan."

Del. Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington, said his legislation was an effort to encourage people to change their behavior to cut down on waste and benefit the environment. Shoppers who preferred disposable plastic bags could have opted to pay a nickel per bag.

"The consumers would have a choice and if they chose to use the throwaway bags, they'd pay a very small fee. So this is certainly a choice," Ebbin said.

Retailers would have retained a penny of each bag fee, or two cents if the stores offer customer bag-credit programs. The revenues raised by the fee would have gone to the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund.

Morrissey said people of all political persuasions are becoming increasingly concerned about plastic-bag litter.

"People are going to get behind this," he said. "It's sad we're not a leader in this."

Officials in the District approved a 5-cent disposable-bag tax that went into effect in January 2010. City officials estimate that before the fee, residents used about 270 million bags a year at grocery and convenience stores. The most recent figures showed that residents were on track to reduce usage to about 55 million bags, or about 80 percent fewer bags. Retailers, meanwhile, have told city officials they've cut down drastically on the number of bags they were buying.

The tax brought in a total of $1.9 million for cleanup of the Anacostia River in the first 10 months of 2010.

By Associated Press  | February 2, 2011; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  Virginia  
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Comments

No wonder the Post is hemoroging readers. Loose with facts and political slant reporting. One reason the use of bags is down in DC is that there's LESS shoppers. We buy all our groceries in VA. The so called bag tax is brining in less than half what it was estimated to. Its all garbage. So carry your diseases in your ecco friendly bags and contaaminate all your food. What a joke. I'll continue to use plastic forever. Glad VA said up yours to the environmental wack jobs.

Posted by: espnfan | February 2, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@espnfan - Uh, you can wash bags. And do you really think they are free? Virginia is littered with plastic bag trash. Anything that helps is good. And a percent of total bag reduction doesn't imply fewer shoppers. Are you saying all those shoppers now shop in VA? Your arguments don't make sense and you sound like a SUV driving "me first" crazy.

Posted by: biketraveller22 | February 3, 2011 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I can't stand the tax yet VA needs money BADLY and the idea of tax cuts solving the problem is laughable

Republicans don't want to increase taxes yet won't cut spending that much so we are left with huge deficits

Posted by: Bious | February 4, 2011 10:45 PM | Report abuse

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