T&EITEM 1
November 4, 2013
Worksession
MEMORANDUM
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
~ichael
Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
Worksession:
Bill 10-13, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags ­
Scope
Bill 10-13, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope, sponsored by
Councilmembers Berliner, Floreen, Rice, and Leventhal, was introduced on April 23, 2013. A
public hearing was held on June 18.
Bill 10-13 would limit the excise tax on carryout bags, enacted in Bill 8-11, to those
at food stores. (See ©2, lines 18-23.) A food store is defined as any retail store where
consists of more than 2% of gross sales by dollar value. The tax would continue to cover
dispensed for non-food items at food stores. Bill 10-13 would also repeal the tax on plastic
takeout bags (see ©2, lines 13-14).1
used
food
bags
food
Public hearing
At the Committee's hearing on this Bill, held on June 18, the County Executive (represented
by Department of Environmental Protection Director Bob Hoyt) and various environmental and
civic organizations (such as the League of Women Voters), as well as the District of Columbia
Department of the Environnient, opposed any scaling back of the current bag tax, which took effect
in January 2012. They emphasized that a bag is a bag and poses the same environmental hazards no
matter its origin, and that the relatively new bag tax law should be given time to prove its worth
before its scope is substantially cut back.
Local Chambers of Commerce and other retailer and business organizations (except the
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; see ©19) generally supported the modifications to the
tax in this Bill, although some would repeal the
tax
altogether. They argued that bags from non­
food stores, such as department stores, electronics stores, or pet stores, tend not to be thrown away
and make up a relatively small part of roadside and stream litter, and anecdotally that the current
law has resulted in increased shoplifting and customer resistance at non-food stores.
See selected testimony on ©10-37.
'Because the advertised scope of Bill 10-13 was limited to the law governing the bag tax, any amendment to prohibit
the use of certain kinds of bags or otherwise regulate them would not be in order without another public hearing.
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Issues
1) Should the carryout bag tax be restricted to "food" stores? How much would
limiting this tax to bags dispensed at "food" stores undercut the goals of the tax?
The goals of the carryout bag tax, articulated by the Executive and other sponsors when Bill
8-11 was enacted, are primarily to reduce environmental litter and contamination from carryout
bags and incentivize the increasing use of reusable bags, and secondarily to raise revenue for the
Water Quality Protection Fund.
Available data from the County Finance Department indicates that the large majority of
taxed carryout bags are dispensed at "food" stores, as this Bill would defme that term. (Bear in
mind that, if a store, such as a department store with a significant food section, meets the 2%-of­
gross-sales-by-dollar-value threshold, the tax would apply to
all
bags dispensed at that store, not just
those that contain food.) As the table of incomplete FY13 data on ©41-45 shows, of the top 34
stores that dispensed the greatest number of bags, shown on ©41, we would classify all but 8 as
food stores under this Bill.2 While the fiscal impact statement on ©5 estimated that the number of
bags taxed would be reduced by 38%, that number is not particularly convincing when one looks at
the raw data on ©41-45 and notes the large numbers of bags dispensed at the many food stores,
broadly defined. Thus we conclude, without authoritative data, that the number of carryout bags
taxed ifthis Bill becomes law would be reduced measurably but not hugely.3
Since the tax yields a flat 4¢ per bag taxed, the revenue loss to the County would be directly
proportional to the reduction in the number of bags taxed. The fiscal impact statement submitted in
June estimated that loss at $1.832 million in FY14 (see ©5). The accuracy of that number depends,
of course, on the accuracy of the 38% estimate in the preceding paragraph, of which we are
somewhat skeptical.
We have no hard data on the number of bags from non-food stores (as defmed in this Bill)
found in streams or elsewhere in the environment, but anecdotal information suggests that they are
much less common than bags from food stores and restaurants.
2)
If
the tax is so limited, is 2% the correct food sales threshold? How difficult would it
be to calculate whether a store meets the 2% threshold?
While Bill 10-13 does not expressly refer to it, it assumes the definition of "food" in the
state sales tax law, Maryland Code Tax-General Article §11-206(a) (shown on ©38-40). Bill 10-13
does not exclude snack foods from the term "food", as the state law defines it, so they would be
2We did not classifY the one Walmart in the County as a food store because according to Walmart's web site it does not
have a separate grocery section. We did classifY the Target stores as food stores because they all have separate grocery
sections and each almost certainly would meet the
2%
threshold.
3This memo need not repeat the ongoing discussion of whether the County vastly underestimated the number of
plastic bags used in the County before this tax took effect. Council Senior Legislative Analyst Keith Levchenko's
memo to this Committee for its March 21 worksession on the broader issue of disposable bags delves into that issue.
2
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counted for purposes of the 2% floor (other than soft drinks and candy, which the state sales tax law
excludes from the definition of "food,,).4
The Council did not receive any testimony or evidence regarding which specific stores
would and would not fit under the 2% floor, which was adapted from a similar Boulder, CO law.
Based on Council staff's observations, if this Bill is enacted, a typical Macy's or Nordstrom's store
would likely be exempt from the carryout bag tax, but a Walmart or Target with a separate food
section ordinarily would not be unless the owner can show, for that store, that food sales represent
less than 2% ofthe store's gross sales by value.
Parts of Mr. Hoyt's testimony at the June hearing seemed to overstate the difficulty of
applying the distinction between food stores and non-food stores, where the
tax
wouldn't apply. His
testimony argued:
Bill 10-13 would cause confusion among our residents, retailers, and those of us charged
with its implementation. For residents, knowing whether to bring a carry out bag to any
given, store such as a Target, CVS or 7-11 would be very difficult; for retailers, keeping
track of percentages of food sales would be burdensome especially since the Bill fails to
identify which food items must be considered in the calculation; and, for the Departments of
Finance and Environmental Protection, knowing which stores must submit the taxes will be
impossible to independently verify, which creates significant administrative and
enforcement problems.
Council staff disagrees with that conclusion; we so advised Mr. Hoyt at the time, and he has
not offered any rebuttal to our reasoning or any further basis for his conclusion. Because food is
exempt from the state sales tax, stores already have to keep track of how much food they sell.
Because Bill 10-13 sets the threshold for a food store at a relatively low level -- 2% or more of the
gross sales, by dollar value, of all items sold - that threshold could
be
easily verified for any given
store by reference to the state sales tax data for that store, which the management would have
readily available. Stores will not have to "keep track of' their percentage of food sales unless that
percentage frequently moves above or below the 2% level, which is generally unlikely. For most
stores such as any CVS or 7-11, or a Target with a stand-along grocery department, the result should
be obvious. For residents' information, the stores where the tax is still charged will no doubt
continue to· post signs notifying customers of that fact, and most customers will know whether the
store they are shopping in sells any significant quantity of food.
3) Should plastic bags used for takeout food still be taxed while paper bags are not?
Bill 10-13 would repeal the tax on plastic food takeout bags (see ©2, lines 13-14). Under
the current law, paper bags used for takeout food or leftover food ("doggie bags") are not taxed,
but plastic bags used for the same purposes are taxed. The Restaurant Association of Maryland
(see testimony, ©37) supported this provision.
4The state sales tax law excludes alcoholic beverages from its definition of "food" (see ©38). This means that a
store which primarily sells alcoholic beverages, such as a County liquor store or an independent beer and wine store,
is not likely to exceed the 2% threshold to qualitY as a food store unless it also stocks and sells a large quantity of
food. Thus the carryout bag tax would still apply in such a store, as
it
does now.
3
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The bases for this distinction in the current bag tax law were the relative ubiquity and
persistence in the environment of plastic restaurant bags and the need to incentivize restaurants
to use paper takeout bags (which seems to be the general trend among fast-food restaurants). But
this distinction is not otherwise recognized in the carryout bag tax law or the County trash and
recycling laws generally.
Some critics (see Kominers testimony, ©32) suggested that restaurants often don't
observe the paper/plastic distinction in this context and either charge for both or more likely
don't charge for either. Whether that confusion, even if it's widespread, is a persuasive reason to
amend the law is doubtful.
Mr.
Kominers also noted that plastic bags are often necessary to
contain certain kinds of easily-spilled foods. That is no doubt an accurate observation, but
arguably irrelevant to the underlying policy decision whether to tax those bags.
This packet contains:
Bill 10-13
Legislative Request Report
Fiscal and Economic Impact Statements
Selected testimony
State sales tax law definition of "food"
List of retailers with bags dispensed and tax revenue
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Corrected Copy
Bill No.
10-13
Concerning: Taxation - Excise Tax ­
Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope
Revised: 4-16-13
Draft No.l
Introduced:
April 23, 2013
Expires:
October 23, 2014
Enacted: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Executive: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Effective:
_--::-~
_ _ _ _ _ __
Sunset Date:
-.:..:.No=n:.'-"e,---.~
_ _ __
Ch. _ _, Laws of Mont. Co. _ __
COUNTY COUNCIL
FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
By: Councilmembers Berliner, Floreen, Rice, and Leventhal
AN
ACT to:
(1)
(2)
modifY the scope ofthe excise tax on certain disposable carryout bags; and
generally amend the law governing the excise tax on certain disposable carryout
bags.
By amending
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 52, Taxation
Section 52-101
Boldface
Underlining
(Single boldface brackets]
Double underlining
[[Double boldface brackets]]
* * *
Heading or defined term.
Added to existing law by original bill.
Deletedfrom existing law by original bill.
Added by amendment.
Deletedfrom existing law or the bill by amendment.
Existing law unaffected by bill.
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the following Act:
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BILL NO.
10-13
(CORRECTEDCOPV)
1
Sec. 1. Section 52-101 is amended as follows:
52-101.
Definitions.
2
3
4
In this Article, the following terms have the following meanings:
*
*
*
5
6
7
Carryout bag
means a paper or plastic bag provided by a retail establishment
to a customer at the point of sale, pickup, or delivery to carry purchased items.
Carryout bag does not include:
(I)
(2)
a bag provided by a pharmacist that contains a prescription drug;
any newspaper bag or bag intended for initial use as a dry cleaning,
garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bag;
(3)
a bag provided at the point of sale at a seasonal event, such as a farmers
market, street fair, or yard sale, or by an occasional retailer;
(4)
a [paper] bag that a restaurant gives a customer to take prepared or
leftover food or drink from the restaurant; or
(5)
a bag used to package a bulk item or to contain or wrap a perishable
item.
8
9
10
11
12
l3
14
15
16
17
18
*
*
*
Retail establishment
means any person engaged in the retail sale of [goods]
19
20
food, alone or in combination with other items. Retail establishment includes any
supermarket, convenience store, shop, service station, or restaurant, and any other
sales outlet where a customer can buy [goods] food.
Retail establishment
does not
include any place where the sale of food does not exceed 2% of the gross sales,
by
dollar value, of all items sold.
Approved:
21
22
23
24
25
Nancy Navarro, President, County Council
Date
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LEGISLATIVE REQUEST REPORT
Bill 10-13
Taxation
-
Excise Tax
DESCRIPTION:
Disposable Carryout Bags
-
Scope
Limits the excise tax on carryout bags to those used at food stores.
Food store is defined as any retail store where food consists of more
than 2% of gross sales by dollar value. The tax would continue to
cover bags used at food stores for non-food items. Also repeals the
tax on plastic food take-out bags.
Consumers find
it
inconvenient to carry reusable bags to non-food
stores, such as department stores. Non-food bags make up small
amounts of bag litter.
To focus the tax on disposable bags on those which create most of the
litter problem.
Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Finance
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be requested.
To be researched.
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney, 240-777-7905
To
be
researched.
PROBLEM:
GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES:
COORDINATI ON:
FISCAL IMPACT:
ECONOMIC
IMPACT:
EVALUATION:
EXPERIENCE
ELSEWHERE:
SOURCE OF
INFORMATION:
APPLICATION
WITHIN
MUNICIPALITIES:
PENALTIES:
Class A for failure to remit tax by retailer.
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ICILL /[H3
u:
:<FoF'
L_t­
072600
ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
MEMORANDUM
May 14,2013
TO:
FROM:
Nancy Navarro. President, County Council
Jennifer A. Hughes, Director, Office
Joseph F. Beach, Director, Department of Finance
OfManageme~\~Udget.u~
~
U..,.
SUBJECT:
Council Bill 10-13, Taxation
*
Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope
Please find attached the fiscal and economic impact statements for the above-referenced
legislation.
JAH:a2a
c: Kathleen Boucher, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
Lisa Austin, Offices of the County Executive
Joy Nurmi, Special Assistant
to
the County Executive
Patrick Lacefield. Director, Public Information Office
Joseph F. Beach, Director, DepartroentofFinance
Michael Coveyou, Department of Finance
David Platt, Department of Finance
Robert Hagedoorn. Department of Finance
Robert G. Hoyt, Director, Department of Environmental Protection
Gladys Balderrama, Department of Environmental Protection
Alex Espinosa, Office of Management and Budget
Matt Schaeffer, Office of Management and Budget
Ayo Apollon, Office of Management and Budget
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Fiscal Impact Statement
Bill 10-13 Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope
1. Legislative Summary.
Bill 10-13 amends Bill 8-11 which established an excise tax on certain disposable carryout
bags. Under the proposed legislation, retail establishments that sell goods or any retail
establishment where the sale of food does not exceed 2 percent of the gross sales of all
items sold would no longer be required to collect the 5 cent
tax
and remit it to the County,
less 1 cent per bag that the retailer may retain
to
offset the administrative cost of collecting
the
tax.
2. An estimate of changes in County revenues and expenditures regardless of whether
the revenues or expenditures are assumed in the recommended or approved budget.
Includes source of information, assumptions, and methodologies used.
Based on data from the Department of Finance. approximately 38 percent of the total
carryout bags subject to the 5-cent tax under current Bill 8-11 would no
lon~er
be subject
to the tax under Bill 10-13. The FY 14 recommended operating budget for the Watershed
Management Program includes $1,832,000
in
Bag Tax revenue. If Bill 10-13 takes effect
on July 1,2013, the 38 percent reduction in carryout bags would result in a revenue
reduction of $696, 160 (38 percent)
in
FY14. If implementation of Bill 10-13 were to take
effect November 1,2013, the revenue reduction would be $464,110 in FY14 due to the
four additional months of revenue (see attached chart below).
Bag Tax Revenue
FY14
Current Bag Tax Revenue
$1,832,000
Revenue under Bill 10·13
Projected
%
Loss of Revenue
Effective
July 1
Projected Revenue Loss
6 Year Total
(est.)
$6,758,760
38%
($698,160)
38%
($2,568,330)
$4,190,430
($2.336,280)
Total Revenue
Effective November
1"
$1,135,840
($464,110)
$1,367,890
Projected Revenue Loss
Total Revenue
$4,422,480
"Revenue Estimates have been adjusted to note the 4 months of additional
revenue as a result of the later effective date in the first year.
The FY14 recommended operating budget assumes a level of Bag Tax revenue needed for
the Water Quality Protection Fund (WQPF) to administer the County's stonnwater
management program and comply with the County's MS4 permit. As shown above, Bill
10-13 reduces the projected Bag Tax revenue.
Due to the fact that the Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) is set at $88.40 for
FYI4, a reduction
in
Bag Tax revenue under Bill 10-13 may result in a reduction in total
revenues needed to support programmed expenditures. This may require a reduction or
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delaying programmed expenditures in order to maintain established debt service coverage
ratio requirements.
3. Revenue and expenditure estimates covering at least the next 6 fiscal years.
Bill 10-13 would create a pennanent revenue decrease. The estimated lost revenue over the
six-year period varies depending on when the new law takes effect. Beyond FY14, the
revenue lost as a result of Bill 10-13, will need to be offset by an increase in the WQPC to
support programmed expenditures required by the County's MS4 pennit.
4. An actuarial analysis through the entire amortization period for each bill that would
affect retiree pension or group insurance costs.
Not applicable.
5. Later actions that may affect future revenue and expenditures
-if
the bill authorizes
future spending.
Not applicable.
6. An estimate of the staff time needed to implement the bill.
No change
in
stafftime is expected (currently, 1 FTE is budgeted to administer the
program). However. the Department ofEnvironmental Protection (DEP) expects inquiries
regarding whether particular entities are covered by the bag tax law to increase. DEP also
expects enforcement cases to increase as some covered entities may mistakenly believe
they are now not subject to the bag tax law.
7.
An
explanation of how the addition of new staff responsibilities would affect other
duties.
Not applicable.
8.
An
estimate of costs when an additional appropriation is needed.
Not applicable.
9.
A
description of any variable that eould affect revenue and cost estimates.
A variable that could affect the revenue impact is the criteria used in the identification of
qualifying an entity under the bag tax law. Some retailers sell food along with other
merchandise and any adjustment to the definition of a qualifying entity would affect
revenues and future implementation costs.
10. Ranges of revenue or expenditures that are uncertain or difficult to project.
Not applicable.
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11.
If
a bill is likely to have no fiscal impact, why that is the case.
Not applicable.
12. Other fiscal impacts or comments.
Not applicable.
13. The following contributed to and concurred with this analysis:
Gladys Balderrama, Department of Environmental Protection
Matt Schaeffer, Office ofManagement and Budget
Robert Hagedoom, Department of Finance
David Platt, Department of Finance
Date '
(j)
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Economic Impact Statement
Bill 10-13, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope
Background:
This legislation would limit the excise tax on carryout bags, enacted
in
Bill 8-11, to those
used at food stores. A food store is defmed as any retail store where the food consists of
more than 2 percent of gross sales by dollar value. The tax would continue to cover bags
used at food stores for non-food items. This legislation would repeal the tax on plastic
food take-out bags.
I. The sources of information, assumptions, and methodologies used.
The source of infonnation and data is from the Department of Finance, Treasury
Division. The latest data cover actual collections through March 2013 which is used
as a basis for these estimates:
• Of the estimated total 1,100 retailers that pay the bag tax, approximately 120
retailers or 11 percent of all retailers are food stores.
• The food stores represent an estimated 62 percent of all collections from the
bag tax.
• Among the food stores:
o 72 percent ofall bags are provided by the top five food stores
o 82 percent of all bags are provided by the top ten food stores
o The remaining estimated 110 food stores provide less than 18 percent
of all bags issued by food stores.
• Under Bill 10-13, therefore, only 11 percent of the retail establishments
would be required to collect the bag tax and 89 percent of the retail
establishments would be excluded from collecting the tax.
2. A description of any variable that could affect the economic impact estimates.
The variable that could affect
the
economic impact is the identification of food
establishments. Large grocery outlets are easily identified under the criterion of gross
sales by dollar value, however, some retail establishments such as Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc. (Walmart) have sales other than food items, and total food sales may comprise
less
than
2 percent of gross sales by dollar value. Therefore the economic impact will
depend on the number of retail establishments in the County that are defined as food
stores. The estimate ofthe economic impact is based on data collected by the
Department of Finance that clearly identify food stores under the criterion of gross
sales by dollar value.
3. The Bill's positive or negative effect,
if
any on employment, spending, saving,
investment, incomes, and property values in the County.
There is a modest positive economic impact from Bill 10-13 on Montgomery County
due to increased disposable income resulting from reduced expenses for retail
Page 1 of2
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Economic Impact Statement
Bill 10-13, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable CarrYout Bags - Scope
shoppers (i.e., 5 cents per bag). However, while shoppers benefit from the reduced
taxation which
limits
the bag
tax
to retailers that sell primarily food items, there is a
partially offsetting cost for retailers who no longer receive a reimbursement of 1 cent
per bag even though it is assumed that they will continue to provide bags to
customers at no cost.
The CE Recom.mended Budget assumed a 20 percent reduction in the number of bags
provided county-wide between fiscal years 2013 (FY13) and 2014 (FY14) reducing
the estimated net bag
tax
revenues from $2,290,000 in FY13 to $1,832,000
in
FYI4.
The economic impact from Bill 10-13 consistent with the CE Recommended Budget
estimated assumption for FY14 would be $696,000 which represents a positive
impact for retail shoppers of$870,000 but a partially offsetting increase in cost for
non-food retailers of $174,000 assuming Bill 10-13 is effective July 1,2013.
Although the long-tenn estimate for the bag tax program is a gradual reduction in the
number of bags provided,
if
there is no near·tenn reduction, the number of bags
provided in FY14 may be similar to FY13. Under that scenario, the economic impact
for FY14 would be $870,000 which represents a positive impact for retail shoppers of
$1,088,000 but a partially offsetting increase
in
cost for non-food retailers of
$218,000 assuming Bill 10-13 is effective July 1,2013.
4.
If
a Bill is likely to have no economic impact, why is that the case?
N/A.
The legislation will have an economic impact as noted in item #3.
5. The following contributed to and concurred with this analysis:
Rob Hagedoorn,
David Platt and Mike Coveyou, Finance.
Date
r
'
Page20f2
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Bob Hoyt, Department of Environmental Protection
Testimony on Bill 10-13 Excise Tax on Disposable Carryout Bags
June 18, 2013
Good evening. My name is Bob Hoyt. I am the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection and I
appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of the County Executive in opposition to Bill 10-13.
After only 18 months since the Bag Tax took effect, Bill 10-13 would eliminate an estimated 75% to 85% of
stores from the requirement to collect 5 cents for disposable bags provided by cashiers and remove the
incentive for consumers to substitute almost 2 million disposable bags monthly with reusable carryout bags.
The Bag Tax overwhelmingly passed Council and had, and continues to have, the support of many retailers,
environmentalists and other County residents. It has helped us comply with our State water quality
requirements and has successfUlly focused attention on the need to reduce litter, clean up our waterways, and
improve our quality of life. Consumers who do not want to bring carryout bags to certain stores have beE!n free
to pay the five cents and have four cents go to water quality programs. Retreating now in any form would be a
mistake; but doing so as proposed by Bill 10-13 would be especially iII-advised.
Bill 10-13 would cause confusion among our residents, retailers, and those of us charged with its
implementation. For residents, knowing whether to bring a carryout bag to any given store such as a Target,
CVS or 7-11 would be very difficult; for retailers, keeping track of percentages of food sales would be
burdensome especially since the Bill fails to identify which food items must be considered in the calculation;
and, for the Departments of Finance and Environmental Protection, knowing which stores must submit the taxes
will be impossible to independently verify, which creates significant administrative and enforcement problems.
To the State and our residents, the bill would signal a retreat in our efforts to clean up our streams and meet our
regulatory requirements. Now is not the time to back off after we have spent the last 3 years rigorously
pursuing the obligation to address stormwater pollution and the last 2 years significantly increasing our litter
control efforts.
The message to retailers would be equally unfortunate. Stores that delayed complying with the Jaw would be
rewarded while those that invested in the software and other implementation tools would suffer financially for
their compliance.
Our stream restoration efforts would also be undermined with dollars that previously funded state mandated
water quality requirements shifting to cover increased administrative costs.
The Bill uses Boulder City's law as a model even though that law has not yet gone into effect. The law was
described by the City Council as only a first step in the effort to reduce litter, and charges 10 cents per bag to
cover costs of administration, covers a much smaller geographic area and fewer stores, and relies on one-on-one
outreach from the City to each store potentially covered.
This attempt to scale back the Bag Tax is reminiscent of the early years of our recycling program as described in
the Gazette's Earth Day editorial: "Montgomery County launched its first major recycling initiative 20 years
ago.... [Critics] ....were certain that the wave of recycling...was just a fad. Residents wouldn't sort their trash.
Curbside pickup would be too expensive. No one would want the discarded items .... It was all just another
government boondoggle. Supporters were able to silence the critics, and recycling grew. [Today] Montgomery
County recycles nearly 58 percent of its trash, the highest rate in the state ...." We urge Council to once again
silence the critics and provide the leadership necessary to stay the course.
The Departments of Environmental Protection and Finance look forward to discussing this bill in greater detail at
the T&E work session.
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THE LEAGUE OF,WOMEN VOTERS
ofMontgomery County, MD, Inc.
Testi mony
0
n Bill 10-13
[Taxation-Excise Tax Disposable Carryout Bags-Scope ]
to the Montgomery County Council
June 18, 2013
The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County vvas proud of the County Council for its
leadership in passing the comprehensive bag tax that took effect on January 1, 2012. This act
recognized that local governments can play an important role in protecting and managing our natural
resources -- including streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Consequently, the League was quite disappointed to learn of the submission of Bill 10-13, which
would dramatically narrow the scope of the bag tax and reverse some benefits of the original bill.
Here are some of our concerns:
• We hope that the County Council will recognize that taking such action would be extremely
premature. The bag tax has been in effect for a little more than one year. County residents are still
becoming accustomed to its requirements and may need more time and publicity to achieve
mor~
thorough compliance and to become comfortable bringing their own reusable (and washable)
bags whenever and wherever they shop, while accepting such simple routines as laundering
, reusable bags.
• Narrowing the scope will conflict with and contradict the farsighted Climate Action Plan approved
by the, County Council -- plastic is a petroleum product that in both its production and destruction
emits carbon dioxide (increasing our carbon footprint) and other air toxins. Narrowing the scope
could also result in more costs for cleaning up trash, maintaining facilities, and possibly requ iri ng
additional staff to do so.
'
• Despite rumors to the contrary, visual and physical pollution of county paths, roads, byways, and
streams - particularly with plastic bags - continues. We have even seen them entangled in the
tops of county trees. These bags also clog our stormwater management infrastructure, are costly'
to remove, and are hazardous to our wildlife.
• In addition, the 5-cent charge serves as a reminder of the negative environmental and economic
impacts plastic bags have, thus inculcating an awareness of these problems (albeit at a far lower
cost than in Ireland, where in 2009 the charge was 35 cents). Maybe we should consider charging
more.
We ask the County to join the League in supporting and retaining this sensible and important control
over the pollution of our resources and in promoting more policies that protect our resources by
reducing pollution. The League has long supported the County Council's
"reduce-reuse-recycle'~'
hiera'rchy and hopes that the County will continue to promote and
strengt~en
these efforts -- rather
than weaken them, which is what Bill 10-13 will
do.
The future is in your hands. Your children, theirs,
and the children in Montgomery County must live with the examples and legacy you noW leave for
them.
(jj)
League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, Maryland, Inc., 12216 Parklawn Dr., Suite 101, Rockville,
MD
208'52
Tel.: 301·984-9585
*
Fax: 301-984-9586
*
Email: lwvmc@erols.com
*
Web: mont.lwvmd.C)rg
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GOVERNlVIENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
District Department of the Environment
***
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL
DISTRICT DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT TESTIMONY
BILL 10-13 TAXATION - EXCISE TAX - DISPOSABLE CARRYOUT BAGS - SCOPE
JUNE 18, 2013 AT 7:30 PM
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL
COUNCIL HEARING ROOM
100 MARYLAND AVENUE
ROCKVILLE, MD 20850 '
.
(
DISTRICT
DEPARTMENT
OFTHE
ENVIRONlv\ENT
green
fonmrd
1200 First St. NE, 5
th
Floor, Washington, DC 20002
i
tel: 202.535.2600
i
web:ddoe.dc.gov
-
-----------------------------------------------------------*~.~
(§)
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'*
~
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Good evening Council President Navarro and fellow councilmembers. My name is
Kate Judson and on behalf of the District of Columbia Department of the Environment
("DDOE"), I would like to weigh in on the proposed changes to Montgomery County's
bag bilL
The District of Columbia's bag law, formally known as the
Anacostia River
Cleanup and Protection Act of2009,
was the first of its kind in the nation and is now more
than three years old. ·When Montgomery County began drafting its bag legislation, DDOE
was asked to share some of the lessons learned from implementing its own law. DDOE
encouraged Montgomery County to pass a law that would cover all retailers, not simply
businesses that sell food and alcohol, in order to avoid confusion within the citizenry and
business community over who should and should not be charging a bag fee. What resulted
is a comprehensive and easy to understand law.
Despite some of the challenges with the District's bag law, the law is effectively
changing behavior. Almost immediately after the law took effect, businesses began seeing
a drastic reduction in bag usage, and environmental clean-up groups witnessed fewer bags
polluting District waterways. Most recently, DDOE completed a Census balanced survey
of 600 residents across the entire city and found strong public acceptance of the law and
an overwhelming reduction in bag use amongst residents. The survey found that compared
to three or four years ago, 67 percent of residents reported seeing fewer plastic bags as
litter around the District, and that an overwhelming 80 percent of District residents
reported that they have reduced their usage of disposable bags since the law went into
effect. In addition, on average, residents estimate their household has moved from using
ten disposable bags a week before the law to four bags a week today - a 60 percent
2
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decrease. Also, over 80 percent of residents either support or have not been bothered by
the implementation of the bag law. If Montgomery County were to conduct a similar
survey, we anticipate similar findings.
Montgomery County's current law is simple and easy to understand from a
resident's perspective, a business' perspective, and from an enforcement perspective. The
proposed amendments to the law would add unnecessary confusion amongst the regulated
community and make it difficult for the government to enforce. This confusion could
result in inconsistent compliance and an unlevel playing field for regulated businesses that
comply relative to regulated businesses who fail to comply either intentionally or
unintentionally.
It
could also increase bag litter in communities and waterbodies in
Montgomery County, including those waterbodies that flow downstream to the District of
Columbia.
Overall, the District's experience implementing the Bag Law has shown it to be a
practical, administratively feasible, and cost-effective way to reduce the consumption of
disposable bags, thereby reducing litter in our waterways. We have found that retailers
that sell mostly non-food items, such as hardware stores, department stores, and specialty
sporting goods stores have not opposed the bag law and have come into compliance easily.
The District views Montgomery County as an important environmental partner
working with us to reduce the amount of disposable bag litter from entering the Anacostia
watershed. Together with effective bag law legislation, we can meet our mutual goal of
. making the Anacostia River fishable and swimmable.
3
(jj)
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'))]
SPRING
CHAMBER
OF COMMERCE
[(('~rJrR
\
Testimony of
The Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce
Public Hearing -'- Bill 10-13
Taxation-Excise Tax-Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope
Montgomery County Council
Tuesday, June 18,2013
Council President Navarro, members of the Council, good evening. For the record, my name is Jane Redicker
and I am the President of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. I speak here today on behalf of
almost 400 businesses mostly small businesses - the owners and employees of which either operate a retail
establishment in Montgomery County or are the customers of retail operations in Montgomery County.
I am here speaking in favor of Bill 10-13, which would modify and limit the scope of the County excise tax on
disposable carryout bags.
When the original "bag tax" was passed and our members realized that it applied to more than just the plastic
bags used in grocery stores, we heard many complaints, primarily complaints from our members in their role as
customers. Most were incredulous that the county expected them to have their own reusable bags for oversized
items, couldn't understand why the tax applied to paper bags, which are obviously recyclable, were annoyed that
now they would have to pay for the department store shopping bags they were accustomed to receiving.
So, when we learned of Bill 10-13, we went back to our members. Some responded as customers; others as
shopkeepers and business owners. In my few moments here, I'll share a sample of what we heard.
• One of our member said she has no problem with the tax on plastic bags from grocery stores, but believes
taxing the bags you get "when you stock up on school clothes for your children is more than a bit of
overkill. After all," she said, "it wasn't those kinds of bags that were mucking up our environment. In fact,
it's those bags that we should be encouraging people to use because if they are like me, they can always find
a use for a shopping bag, even if its next life is only as a trash can liner."
• Another member has been boosting the economy of businesses in neighboring Howard County. She told us
she has been shopping there "on numerous occasions just to avoid the bag tax ....not because ofthe cost, but
the principle ..
.I
realize this is taking business away from Montgomery County, but it is just a bad law ..
.isn't this a case of punishing the masses for a few 'bad appJes' who do not dispose of refuse properly? Can't
we think up some other way .... a more positive way of improving the bad behavior of littering?"
• One retail member mentioned that many of the store's customers decline bags for their purchases, and are
often very vocal about their reasons for doing so. "They say they just refuse to give Montgomery County
even one centfor a (expletive) shopping bag," she said.
• Another member that manages a location with mUltiple stores said his merchants' concerns about shoplifting
have increased since the tax took effect. "We really have to keep an eye on certain people, now," he said.
• Restaurants complain that they have never been clear on what their responsibilities are, and customers echo
this, saying that some charge for plastic carryout bags, some for paper, some for both, and others ignore the
law and don't charge anything, saying customers just complain when they
try
to charge for any bag.
8601 Georgia Avenue, Suite 203, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
Phone: 301-565-3777 _ Fax: 301-565-3377 - info@gsscc.org _ www.silverspringchamber.com
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• And finally, one member opined that he didn't know whether the tax was having any positive impact on the
environment, but he did think there were people who are risking illness by using reusable bags to carry
home food. "Those reusable bags are perfect for growing bacteria and cross-contaminating food. And who
out there is really washing out their bags ... precious few," he thinks. "A good recycling program for
disposable bags would be a better approach."
According to the original "bag tax" introduction packet, "Disposable bags handed out by retail businesses are
among the top items persistently found in the litter and trash stream in County neighborhoods and rivers. Litter
is a public health nuisance, degrades property values, pollutes our rivers, and drives up taxpayer-funded cleanup
costs." Most would agree with this sentiment. And, when the County Executive met with businesses once the
tax was enacted, he said that it was never meant to be a revenue source. Its purpose was to limit the use of bags
and keep plastic bags from becoming litter. In fact, we recall him saying that his goal was to reduce the use of
these plastic bags to the point that it was not necessary to collect a tax.
So, we ask, why wasn't
it
originally limited to those bags that were littering our streams and neighborhoods?
Why was its scope extended so broadly? Extended far beyond the types of bags most agreed were creating the
litter problem? Has
it
resulted in a decrease in the numbers ofthese bags being found in our streams and
neighborhoods? Has anyone done the research to quantify this? Or has it simply become another source of
revenue that our County is now reluctant to relinquish.
Our membership is split on what should be done now. Some want us to advocate for eliminating the tax
altogether. Others think the scope should be modified and narrowed to address the so-called "problem bags,"
those that were the real source of the litter. They are willing to support modifications that would give the
original intent a chance to work. That's why I'm here this evening to urge your support of Bill 10-13.
And I thank you for your consideration.
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THE
GREATER
BETHESDA-CHEVY CHASE
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1204
Bethesda, MD 20814
T: (301) 652-4900
F: (301) 657·1973
sta!f@bccchamber.org
www.bccchamber.org
Your Business Is
Our Only Business
TESTIMONY OF GINANNE M. ITALIANO
REGARDING
BILL #13-10, TAXATION-EXCISE TAX-DISPOSABLE CARRYOUT BAGS-SCOPE
BEFORE THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL -
June
18,2013
Good evening. My name is Ginanne Italiano and I am the President and CEO of The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of
Commerce, which is comprised of over 600 area businesses employing over 45,000 people.
I am here to testify in support of Bill 13-10, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags. We want to thank the sponsors of
this legislation for listening to the concerns of Montgomery County citizens and businesses alike on an issue that will help us to be
more business and consumer friendly, if passed. We understand the bag tax offsets the costs of the County's stormwater management
program, and primarily as a detriment to the widespread use of plastic bags, mostly from grocery stores. Since the bag tax was
implemented, we have seen a major increase in people walking into grocery stores with cloth andlor reusable bags. This is obviously a
good thing. Good for the environment, good for keeping plastic bags out of our waterways and ultimately good for the County's
budget.
But how often do we remember to bring those same reusable bags when we go to the local beer/wine store or to the shopping mall?
The tax for department stores and others has caused a number of issues frustrating to customers and owners alike.
r
d like to provide a
few examples given by members of our Chamber.
First, a local small retailer in downtown Bethesda said, "We have a number of customers who get angry with us, the store owner, for a
law that Montgomery County is imposing. They leave very frustrated not because of the 5 cents but more because of a law that makes
us charge 5 cents for a paper bag, when it is the plastic bags that are causing the pollution."
The manager of a hardware store that has stores in both Bethesda and Silver Spring has had issues not only because of the complaints
but also due to shoplifting. People bring their bags in and when going up and down the aisle shopping, they use their bag to collect
items instead of the baskets the store provides. This store manager said that "It's hard to question some and not others without
sounding accusatory. We have caught people red-handed walking out of the store without having paid first the bag tax made it
pretty easy for those people."
Finally, the owner of a beer and wine store, says that he is facing the same issue with frustrated customers. It's not about the 5 cents,
he says it's "just another barrier to doing business in Montgomery County when others can get the same product across the river or in
PriDce George's County without this hassle." His customers who most times forget to bring a bag to his store, also don't want to walk
dOVvTI the street carrying a bottle of wine or 6-pack of beer without a bag and feel pressured (not by him) to buy the bag.
In reaching out to some of our shopping centers, we received a few more quotes from retailers regarding the tax - they can be found
on the back of my testimony. We thank you forrealizing the negative impact the bag tax has on retail stores that do not primarily sell
food and improving the law for the betterment of our County, businesses and consumers.
2013 Annual Sponsors
Platinum:
~EAGlEBANK
Gold Sponsors - Arthritis Foundation - Mid Atlantic Region - The Chevy Chase Land Company
Silver Sponsors Exact Target Lerch. Early & Brewer. Chtd. - Suburban Hospital- Watkins Meegan
Bronze Sponsors - Andy Stern's Office Furniture - Barwood Transportation - Bethesda Magazine - Bond Beebe Accountants
&
Advisors - Cohn Reznick· ConTemporaries,
Inc. Councilor, Buchanan
&
Mitchell P.C., CPAs - OMB Pictures, LLC - Dembo. Jones. Healy, Pennington & Marshall PC • Gelman. Rosenberg & Freedman - Grossberg
Company LLP - International Baccalaurea.te - Linowes and Blocher LLP - McShea and Company - Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union - Mon Ami Gabi - The Bean Bag Deli
~
Catering The Bernstein Companies' The Jane Fairweather Team - The Tower Companies
\fJI
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Results From Quick Survey of Retailers in Bethesda-Chevy Chase
"I really do think that it is a great idea! As a boutique store, we have gotten a lot of flack for charging our
customers this fee."
Antonio, the manager at Rangoni Shoes
"It is our understanding there is a hearing to discuss amending the current plastic bag fee in
Montgomery County. We are VERY much in favor of repealing this fee as soon as possible."
Mirella Levinas, Manager at Cartier:
"Customers who shop in luxury stores are offended by ANY charge of a shopping bag. They feel that the
bag is the final part of an expected sales ceremony. We have also have customers say they would not
purchase if there is a bag charge."
Andrea Mitchell, manager ofBulgari:
7910 WoodmontAvenue, Suite 1204, Bethesda MD, 20814 • Ph (301) 652-49CO • Fax (301) 657-1973 • Email staff@bccchamber.org • Web www,bccchamber.org
@
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THE VOICE OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY BUSINESS
Bill 10-13 Disposable Carry-Out Bags - Scope
Montgomery County Counei
I
June 18, 2013
OPPOSE
The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, as the voice of Montgomery County
business, supports Montgomery County's Bag Tax program, which imposes a
5
cent tax on
paper and plastic bags in retail stores and opposes the changes to the program proposed in
Bill 10-13.
A program similar to Montgomery County's has been very successful in the District of
Columbia, resulting not only in significant revenue, but also a reduction in bag usage of
approximately 80 percent. Most importantly for our members, in a recent survey, 78 percent
of business owners in D.C. reported either no change to their business or a positive impact
on their business.
In Montgomery County, the Bag Tax helped reduce the number of plastic bags in streams.
And, unlike the Energy Tax, the Bag Tax revenue is actually applied to a related problem:
the mitigation of litter in our water and waste streams.
But the Chamber recognizes that there is controversy associated with the inconvenience of
implementing the Bag Tax. We recognize that the County Council is on the receiving end of
complaints from many who oppose any Bag Tax.
However, there was at least this much controversy about the restaurant smoking ban which
you enacted almost ten years ago. Even then we supported the need for you to take action
to move the county forward. We believe that, though controversial, it falls to you again to
move the County forward on this issue, too.
For these reasons, we oppose Bill 10-13.
Gigi Godwin, President and CEO
Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
51 Monroe Street, Suite 1800 Rockville, MD 20850
301-738-0015
www.montgomerycountychamber.com
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Clean Land, Safe Water, Healthy Lives
Testimony for Bill 10-13 Taxation Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags - Scope
OPPOSE
Tuesday, June 18,2013
Montgomery County Council
Laura Chamberlin, Program Manager, Alice Ferguson Foundation
Thank you for conducting this important public hearing on Bill 10-13 concerning the amendment to
the successful bag fee legislation that has been in place for the past year. The Alice Ferguson
Foundation, an environmentally focused nonprofit, has been working with our partners in
communities around the Potomac Watershed to end the litter and trash problem through our Trash
Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. We organize cleanups but also pursue policies and actions to
end litter at its source.
In April 2013, over 14,000 volunteers trudged through mud and dodged cars, to pull 574,000
pounds oftrash from 616 sites during our Potomac River Watershed Cleanup across four states
and the District of Columbia. But we don't need to remind you of the litter. You already know
about that, that's why you passed this legislation two years ago. This legislation has been an
important step in solving the litter problem by creating a five cent incentive on single-use plastic
and paper bags to encourage people not to use single-use bags.
In both the first and second year of the bag fee, 2012 and 2013, Montgomery County Cleanup sites
have recorded more than a 50% decrease in plastic bags than in previous years. Similar results have
been seen in the District of Columbia since the implementation of their similar legislation. Behavior
has changed and we are seeing less plastic bags littered, which is the intent of the legislation.
Even with these successes, we understand that there are concerns. Innovative legislation like this
warrants review and we are ready to work v.ri.th the County Council and Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) to help make the current legislation effective. But the changes
suggested in this amendment, v.ri.ll negatively impact the success of this bag law and further create
confusion. There are several points that are of particular concern:
1) Exempting businesses that have less than 2% of their sales coming from food. From
what we can tell, businesses don't currendy report by percentage of product type sold. So
how could this exemption be meaningful and enforceable? And what about the extra
reporting burden for businesses? We can also see this resulting in some businesses
demanding exemption when they don't qualify and other businesses demanding that they be
allowed
to
implement since they are able to save money. An exemption of this kind will
further confuse and anger consumers and weaken the impacts of the bill.
200 1 Bryon Point Rood
Accokeek, Maryland
20607
Phone
301,292,5665
Fox 301.292, 1070
WI,VW,
ferguson foundation. org
1255 23,e
Street NW, Suite
275
Washington, DC
20036
Phone
202.292,8203
Fox 202,292,8206
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2)
Department stores, hardware stores, electronic stores, just to name a few, are the
stores that are most likely to be exempt under the new amendment.
It's argued that
these stores don't contribute to the litter volume. But in fact, I have seen many of these bags
on my litter cleanups. Additionally, there is a concern that it is difficult to bring a reusable
bag to these stores. But I know from first-hand experience that many of these types of stores
sell reusable bags to encourage their consumers to use, which reduces the store's overhead
costs
3)
What is the definition of food?
Does it include liquor or beverages? We know that bags
from the purchase of these products are commonly littered and they must be included.
4)
Carryout exclusion.
The struggle to address restaurants and carry-outs is not an easy one,
but restaurant bags are a common source of plastic bag litter and so they must be
considered. If a consumer needs a bag and pays five cents for it, the bag
will
have value, and
will hopefully not be littered. There is also the opportunity to refuse the bag, as I usually do.
The District of Columbia has experience implementing a similar bill, but with more exemptions, and
they continue to recommend fewer exemptions. Their reason is simple: the more exemptions, the
more confusing the law is and thus the more difficult it is to implement and enforce. Rather than
making drastic changes to the law, we strongly recommend a comprehensive evaluation of the law's
implementation. A true evaluation might yield other solutions such as a focus on improving
enforcement and education. This will ensure that residents understand the purpose of the legislation
and that implementation
is
occurring across
all
businesses as it should.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation recognizes that legislation is not the only solution, just as Cleanups
are not the only solution. They are each but one piece of the puzzle. We know that policies like this
challenge residents to change their behavior. Getting people to wear safety belts in cars and to not
smoke in public are examples of challenging behavior changes.
It
may not be easy to change
behavior, but it
is
necessary. And it takes strong, committed leadership to foster this change. We
urge you to not abandon success. We urge you to not amend the law, but rather to improve
enforcement and education and to undertake a comprehensive evaluation, which can help better
inform future efforts.
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TESTIMONY BY THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY REPUBLICAN CENTRAL
COMMITTEE ON BILL 10-13
TAXATION-EXCISE TAX DISPOSABLE CARRYOUT BAGS-SCOPE
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL
JUNE 18,2013
THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT THE POSITION OF THE
MONTGOMERY COUNTY REPUBLICAN CENTRAL COMWTTEE (MCGOP)
REGARDING THE PROPOSED MODIFICATIONS TO THE COUNCIL'S
COMPREHENSIVE PLASTIC AND PAPER BAG TAX. WE COMMEND THE
COUNCIL FOR CONSIDERING ACTION ON A TAX ISSUE WHICH HAS RAISED
MUCH CONCERN ACROSS THE COUNTY, REGARDLESS OF PARTY
AFFILIATION, SINCE ITS IMPLEMENTATION JANUARY 1,2012.
FOR A COUNTY THAT PRIDES ITSELF ON RECYCLING, THIS ANNOYING AND
BURDENSOME BAG TAX MAKES A MOCKERY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY
RESIDENTS WHO RELIGIOUSLY RECYCLE PLASTIC, METALS, PAPER AND
MORE AND OF HARD-WORKING COUNTY EMPLOYEES WHO COLLECT, SORT
AND RECYCLE THESE PRODUCTS.
WE THINK COUNCILMAN BERLINER SAID IT BEST WHEN RECENTLY QUOTED
IN THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY SENTINEL, " ...TO BRING IN A REUSABLE BAG
AT HOME DEPOT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT IS ON MOST PEOPLE'S
CONSCIOUSNESS AND I DON'T THINK IT EVER WILL BE. MY CONCERN IS
THA T IT BREEDS RESENTMENT."
BUT THE ISSUE AND RESIDENT FRUSTRATION EXTENDS BEYOND HOME
DEPOT OR NORDSTROMS. ONE ONLY HAS TO VISIT THE LOCAL GIANT OR
SAFEWAY TO SEE THE RESENTMENT - SLOWER CHECKOUT LINES, BROKEN
AND UNSANITARY BAGS BEING USED, SENIOR CITZENS WALKING OUT OF
STORES WITHOUT BAGS BALANCING DELICATE GOODS IN THEIR
OVEREXTENDED ARMS, SHOPPERS HAPHAZARDLY TOSSING UNBAGGED
GOODS INTO THE BACK OF THEIR VEIDCLES.
LET'S NOT FORGET THE BURDEN ON BUSINESSES WHO ARE REQUIRED BY
LAW TO COLLECT AND COUNT THE NICKELS, FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK,
MAKE PAYMENTS TO THE COUNTY COUNCIL, OR THE BURDEN ON
TAXPAYERS STUCK WITH THE SALARY AND PENSION OF UNNEEDED COUNTY
EMPLOYEES WHO MAIL THE PAPERWORK, COLLECT THE NICKELS AND
@
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RELENTLESSLY POLICE THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY FOR BAG TAX
VIOLATIONS.
BILL 10-13 IS A GOOD FIRST STEP BUT IT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH. THE
MCGOP IS CALLING FOR AN IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF THE NICKEL TAX ON
ALL PAPER BAGS. CLEARLY RECYCLABLE, WE NOTE THAT PAPER BAGS ARE
REQUIRED BY THE COUNTY COUNCIL FOR THE HOME COLLECTION OF ALL
GRASS CLIPPINGS AND YARD WASTE.
WITH REGARD TO PLASTIC BAGS, WE RECOMMEND A ONE- YEAR PHASEOUT
OF THE CURRENT LAW. DURING THAT YEAR, THE COUNTY COUNCIL COULD
DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION PROGRAM ON
RECYCLING THE BAGS AT GROCERY STORES
(MANY
STORES ACTUALLY HAD
PLASTIC BAG RECYCLE BINS (HDPE 2) BEFORE THE TAX WAS IMPLEMENTED)
AND AT HOMESfBUSINESSES WITH OUR CURRENT BLUE RECYCLE BINS.
THE COUNTY COUNCIL IS ALREADY SPENDING TAX DOLLARS "TEACHING"
RESIDENTS HOW TO SAFELY CROSS THE STREET AND HOW TO PLANT TREES
AND SHRUBS TO FILTER RAIN WATER (AS PART OF THE COMING RAIN TAX).
TRAINING OUR IDGHLY EDUCATED RESIDENTS ON RECYCLING PLASTIC
BAGS SHOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM.
IN CLOSING, THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF COUNCILMEN BERLINER, THE
COUNTY COUNCIL HAS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO HIGHLIGHT TO ALL
COUNTY RESIDENTS THAT THE NICKEL BAG TAX WAS A MISTAKE AND THAT
THROUGH EXPANDED EDUCATION AND RECYCLING EFFORTS, THE
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BAG TAX IS NO LONGER NECESSARY. LET BILL 10-13
BE THE FIRST OF MANY BILLS TO COME THAT WILL ELIMINATE
UNNECCESSARY AND BURDENSOME TAXES AND REGULATIONS ON
MONTGOMERY COUNTY RESIDENTS. THAl'X Y.OU.
/ _
O/lU¢
S
MARK UNCAPHER, CHAIRVlAN
F
":;!LAVLeC-~
/EA-kJ,..;<i'
-t-v~
T'
MONTGOMERY COUNTY REPUBLICAN CENTRAL COMMITTEE
15833 CRABBS BRANCH WAY
DERWOOD, MD 20855
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Testimony on Bill 1
o~
13
­
Position: OPPOSE
June 18,2013
Montgomery County Council
Good evening. My name is Julie Lawson. I am the Director ofthe Trash
Free Maryland Alliance, a network of60 organizations, businesses, and
activists working to reduce litter in the state through public policy. I am
here on behalf of our members to oppose Bill 10-13.
1
Trash Free
MARYLAND
I have been working on disposable bag bills in the mid-Atlantic for five years, starting with working to pass the
bag law in DC in 2009. Since then, I have studied these laws as they pass around the nation, and worked with
the DC government and other partners to assess the effectiveness of the program there. This experience tells me
that Montgomery County's law is a leader in the nation, a modd for other jurisdictions to emulate.
The trend has been for cities to start with a law that applies to a limited number ofstores, and after some
number ofyears and a thorough review process, they expand the scope to include more stores. They generally
don't scale back.
It's troubling to me that the Council is reconsidering a program that is having the desired effect-reducing
disposable bag use, reducing litter, and reducing trash pollution in our streams. This is particularly troubling
because the County generally does not tweak programs until they are three to five years old, and the bag law
is not quite 18 months old. Behavior change takes time; I urge the Council to give County residents and
businesses that time.
Certainly there are ways for the program to be more effective. But what is "effective" in this case? It's reducing
bag use.
If
people aren't taking their reusable bags to the mall, does it really accomplish the goal to just exempt
those stores? Just because people anecdotally don't seem to have changed doesn't mean we should just give up
on them. Instead, we should find out what they are really doing. The County has not conducted any scientific
studies to measure behavior change or public opinion--so do we really know what's happening?
The County should also step up its outreach and education, to both businesses and residents. Webinars for
businesses helped educate them in the first few months, and there were some terrific ads out over the winter
holidays reminding people to take their bags with them for holiday shopping. This work needs to be a sustained,
year-round endeavor. A survey could also highlight gaps in the outreach.
There is little enforcement of the law, either. A business can decide that it's too much of a hassle to charge
the fee, and nothing happens to them. Again we are not accomplishing the intent of the law. The delay in
enforcement was by design, under the premise that a full review of the program would be several years away.
Revising a program so early in its existence
will
set a precedent for future programs. I strongly encourage
the Council, and the County, to redouble efforts to implement the bag law we have, scientifically assess its
effectiveness now and in a few years, and only then consider changes. Thank you.
Contact:
Julie Lawson
Trash Free Maryland Alliance
202-347-0412
jlawson@anacostiaws.org
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Billl0-13--0PPOSE
TESTIMONY OF KATHERINE SCHINASI, BOARD MEJ\.1BER,
ROCK CREEK CONSERVANCY
At the Public Hearing on Bill No. 10-13
Modifying the Excise Tax on
Certain Disposable Carr.yout Bags
Montgomery County Council
June 18,2013
Rock Creek Conservancy is a nonprofit organization working to protect the
lands and waters of Rock Creek and revitalize Rock Creek Park. Rock Creek is the
second largest watershed in Montgomery County, with 168 miles of stream,
including Rock Creek and its 20-plus tributaries. We directly reach more than
1,000 constituents in Montgomery County.
Since our founding in 2005, we have mobilized over 30,000 hours in
volunteer service to protect Rock Creek. Our projects include tree planting, storm
drain marking, cutting invasive plants, and installing rain gardens. One of our
major efforts has been to field volunteers for several hundred trash cleanups. As a
consequence, "we know trash."
.We would like to first thank the Council for its leadership in passing the bag
tax in 2011. That action marked the county-not just in Maryland but across the
country-as one of the foremost future-leaning jurisdictions by establishing the
priority of environmental sustainability. And it has had a real and positive impact.
However, we must now oppose passage of Bill 10-13. This bill would weaken the
progress already made in cleaning up the county by exempting plastic food take­
out bags. We have found these to be a significant source of trash in Rock Creek. '
Trash is a problem the entire length of Rock Creek. Since 2009, Rock Creek
Conservancy has held an annual "Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup" with trash
pickups at over 50 locations. This year, more than 1,800 volunteers participated
and worked at 71 sites. Over the past five years, the Extreme Cleanup has yielded
12,224 bags of trash, 68 tons ofjunk too large or too heavy to fit in a bag, and 803
tires.
Our volunteers have also pulled more than 35,000 plastic bags from Rock
Creek's streams and parks. The pictures below give you an indication of how
disturbing this is and where bags are found.
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Bill10-13--0PPOSE
Most of the plastic bags we fmd are caught in snags in two places: along a
road or in or near a creek. Along the roads, the main source is litter. Plastic bags
are often found with food containers and wrappers, chip bags, candy wrappers,
bottles, and cans.
It
appears that people buy a take-out meal or snack and clean out
their cars by tossing the remains out the window.
Bags found in and near the creeks generally come from trash and litter in the
surrounding neighborhoods. During heavy rains, lightweight plastic bags, bottles,
and balls wash into the street gutters and then move through the storm drain system
. to the nearest creek. Some of the bags catch on rocks in the stream or on snags on
th.e stream bank. You can easily see the high water mark of storms by noting how
high plastic bags can be seen on the stream bank or hang in tree branches by the
creek.Those are the ones our volunteers pick up. The bags that are not caught flow
with the high water downstream to the Potomac, the Chesapeake Bay, and the
ocean.
There is a correlation between take-out food and drink and the plastic bags
that become trash in our parks, waterways, and oceans. Last fall, 18 of our
volunteers spent two hours picking up trash as part of the Ocean Conservancy's
International Coastal Cleanup and did an inventory of what they found. Of the 556
items gathered, most of the top 10 were food related.
91 food wrappers
77 cigarette butts
67 plastic bags (+7 paper bags)
58 glass bottles
45 plastic bottles
45 caps
&
lids
38 cans
26 cups, plates
&
forks
22 straws
These were the same top 10 items found by the other 550,000 volunteers who
participated in the Ocean Conservancy's 2012 coastal cleanup.
Our data indicate that for Rock Creek, the Montgomery County bag tax is
working.
In
2011, before the bag tax was passed, our volunteers reported
gathering 5,274 plastic bags. The following year-after enactment of the tax-the
number dropped to 3,957.
In
2013,
it
dropped again to 3,722. This is a decrease of
29% from 2011 levels.
There are still, however, far too many plastic bags in Rock Creek. Changing
behavior often takes a long time-I still forget to take my bags now and then-but
we see the positive impact Montgomery County's bag tax has had after just two
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BillI0-13--0PPOSE
years. Residents are more attuned to the cost of plastic bags and the value of
reusable ones. Businesses have even capitalized on the bag tax, as evidenced by the
.
advertising logos sported on reusable bags and the sale of fashionable ones.
We urge the Council to vote against Bill 10-13 and continue the bag tax as it
is. Ideally, even more could be done by the Council to reduce plastic bag pollution
and trash in the creek. Adding exemptions to the excise tax would be taking a large
step backwards. At a minimum, people should pay for all food-related bags, as
those far too frequently end up as trash, but a fee on all bags is even easier to
remember and can be easily avoided by using a reusable bag or no bag at all.
Thank you.
A few of the 35,000 bags collected
by
Rock Creek Conservancy volunteers
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Testimony in Opposition to Bill
10-13,
Excise Tax, Disposable Carryout Bags, Scope
June
18, 2013
Neighbors of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River strongly opposes Bill
10-13,
the partial roll-back of our far-sighted carryout bag fee.
Neighbors ofthe Northwest Branch is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to
restoring the health of the Northwest Branch. Among our activities is removing the
litter of our throw-away culture from the stream banks and water.
When Bill 10-13 was proposed, excluding from the bag fee 89% of retailers
currently covered,
I
reread our 2011 testimony supporting the fee.
It
applauded the at­
the-source, market approach, the wide and fair coverage, and the conservation resources
the fee would generate initially while having a neutral or positive effect on county
businesses. Has something changed since 2011?
Not the threat to wildlife and water quality that litter poses. Not our MS4 trash
reduction requirements for the Anacostia watershed. Certainly not our need to reduce
our use of petroleum and forest products in light of diminishing resources and climate
change.
Indeed, some things
HA
VE changed: we find many fewer plastic bags and shreds hung
up on trees and stream banks, many fewer of those fast food and nonfood store bags that
this bill would exempt. And although the bag fee was not established for revenue, it has
provided our Dept. of Environmental Protection with needed funds to seriously address
our Clean Water Act requirements.
All the sponsors ofthis bill signed the pledge for a Trash Free Potomac by 2013. You
were wise to sign this pledge and wise to institute the bag fee. The Council has
demonstrated that it wants to make Montgomery County a model of environmental
sustainab ility.
Some councilmembers have suggested that people relieved ofthis fee will then be ready
to accept deep changes to their lifestyle on behalf of environmental protection. But
realistically, what large inconvenient behavior change on behalf of environmental
protection do you expect people to accept in exchange for such a minor inconvenience
as taking a bag along to buy toothpaste or batteries, or paying 5 cents for a department
store bag large enough for pillows or a winter coat?
And will property owners be pleased to make up the missing $700,000 annually with
another increase in the Water Quality Protection Charge?
We urge you to preserve the gains we've already made in reducing environmentally and
economically damaging bag litter. Wouldn't it be far more embarrassing to miss our
MS4 requirements than to carry a reusable bag into an upscale store? Please proudly
carry one of our beautiful logo bags that will advertise your concern for our threatened
waterways. No embarrassment therel
You made the correct decision in 2011. Please hold the course. Vote NO to Bill 10-13.
Thank you.
Anne Ambler
12505 Kuhl Road, Silver Spring
P. O.
'lJox
4314
Saver
Syrine,
:M:D
20914-4314
Anne Ambler
President
James Graham
Vice President
John Fqy
Secretary
LmryHush
Treasurer
Suzanne Donohue
JimFary
Kimberl~
Knox
Glenn We/c.b
Tiffa1!J Wright
Edward Murtagh
Liaison, Friends of
Sligo
Creek
Elaine Lamirande
Chair, Woodmoor
Green Team
******
WW\v.neighborsnwb.org
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Testimony of Maurie Kathan
re: Bill 10-13. Disposable Carryout Bags
Montgomery County Council
Hearing on 6/18/2013
Position: Opposed
My name is Maurie Kathan, Chevy Chase, MD
I am here to in opposition to changes to the current bag bill.
I would like to tell you about my experience with the bag fee in DC as it
speaks to some of the concerns I have heard expressed.
I work at Hudson Trail Outfitter in DC. Though we are not a department
store we sell very expensive items including clothing. It is not unusual for
me have at least one 1000 plus dollar sale a day. Though we are in DC
where stores that do not sell food are exempt we sell camping food so we
are required to charge for bags. I rarely have a customer object to paying
for the bag as it is a very little fee on top of a big purchase.
I know that my store has had to purchase fewer bags since this fee has
been in place. We provide printed paper bags which are not cheap. I am
sure this has been a help to the company as a small local corporation.
I find that the simple question "do you want a bag" makes a huge
difference. People take the time to think about it and often come to the
conclusion that they don't need one.
Having the bag fee will not only benefit the environment and take millions of
bags out of the trash stream, but it will benefit businesses. In this tight
economy, even little savings to a business can be the difference between
staying in business and having to close your doors.
Thank you for your consideration
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Testimony of Celia Martin
re: Bill 10-13, Disposable Carryout Bags
Montgomery County Council
Hearing on 6/18/2013
Position: Opposed
You are to be congratulated on the Council's adoption of the environmental protection fee attached to plastic bag
usage. The Council has followed the example of other leading cities and counties, and acted as a model for its own
state. \'Vhen a product causes significant economic and environmental damage on a large
it is the responsibility
of government to protect the greater good; our County Council has responded and it is to be congratulated.
As you undoubtedly understand, the current legislation allows usage of plastic
but recognizes that the cost to
the environment for that choice must be borne by the user. In some cities throughout the world, plastic bags are
banned altogether because the governments prefer to spend ta."{ dollars elsewhere, rather than for the cost associated
with plastic bag cleanup and the damage these bags cause to recycling equipment, and the flooding they cause when
they damage storm drains. Based on an October, 2012 \Vall Street Journal article, San Francisco estimates that to
clean up, recycle and landfill plastic bags costs as much as 17 cents a bag. On this basis, bag users receive a discount
to the more true costs of usage, and all taxpayers are making up the difference. This should be considered as a
significant concession to plastic bag users.
Let's remember the economic arguments which were presented when the environmental fee legislation was approved.
It saves businesses the cost of providing bags. It
entrepreneurs new opportunities to create alternatives, and
we have seen restaurants such as Sweet Green rise to the challenge with success. As the Wall Street
J
oumal article
points out, companies that manufacture reusable bags will continue to grow and diversify their product lines, and will
create more green jobs. The sale of reusable bags
will
also generate sales-tax revenue.
So rather than weaken the environmental protection fee on bag usage, I hope that Montgomery County will continue
its forward looking tendencies and join the 10 cities which have banned plastic bags entirely, and the number of cities
and counties which are addressing
cleaning plastic. I hope that the Council will agree that it is important to keep
perspective on the cost versus the benefit. The environmental fee levied on a garment bag is not even 1 basis point
on the cost of a $200 outfit; on a $50 restaurant meal, the cost is 10 basis points, still not even close to 1%. Protecting
our environment and saving and redirecting tax dollars to benefit those same consumers is worth far more than 5
cents per bag. And in terms of constituent pushback and political capital being expended, remember that
complainers are generally more motivated to share their opinion than the supportive majority. I have an anecdote to
illustrate the majority'S support.
I was shopping at the outlets in Delaware and watched the parking lot to see who was carrying their own bags.
Delaware has no environmental fee on bags. The Delaware shoppers generally used plastic and paper when loading
their cars with their purchases. The Maryland shoppers were generally using their own reusable bags.
\'Vby
would
they do that when there was no charge associated with plastic usage? Please consider that they do so because they
agree with the County Council's message at home of the benefits to society of using an alternative
to
plastic. So not
only has the Montgomery County Council'modeled a policy which has created a better environment for its o'.vn
County tax payers, but has leveraged the quality of life in other places as well.
Please stand fmn
in
your support of the environmental protection fee levied on all plastic bags, and consider that the
majority of your constituents suppott the original bill. Thank you for all you do to serve our County.
Respectfully submitted,
Celia Martin
5326 Falmouth RD., Bethesda, I'vID 20816
Bethesda resident, weekend weed warrior volunteer, donor to IVlontgomery County Parks Foundation
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Testimony of Sarah Morse
re: Bill 10-13, Disposable Carryout Bags
Montgomery County Council
Hearing on
6118/2013
Position: Opposed
I'm Sarah Morse, Co-President of the Little Falls Watershed Alliance, an all-volunteer environmental
stewardship group for lower Montgomery County. Our creek is the Little Falls branch and we engage
neighbors in Bethesda and Chevy Chase as stewards for our fragile natural environment. We have over
900 members and we run more than 40 events a year including monthly creek clean-ups. Since we started
in 2008, we have removed some 400 large bags of trash from the creek and surrounding parkland using
all volunteer labor.
Last year, the County gave us a huge'gift. They recognized that even with hundreds of volunteers helping
us, we can't keep up with the litter. So, the Council passed a bag law and engaged another million
residents in the problem. With a simple
5
cent fee, the Council took thousands of bags out of the trash
stream and made every resident of Montgomery County a participant in saving the Bay and keeping
plastic bags off the roadways. One million volunteers joined us in keeping the creek clean. We noticed
the difference immediately. We rarely find bags anymore. In our last big creek clean-up, one group
picked up only
4
plastic bags. The Bag Law works and we are so grateful to the County for taking this
strong stand for the environment.
Today, the Council is considering weakening the Law and allowing some bags back into the trash stream.
They say that some residents find it burdensome to bring their own bag and it's too expensive to pay a
nickel for one. They say that it doesn't make sense to have to bring your own bag to high end stores
I
ike
Joseph Bank or Macy's. They feel that people who get take-out food from delis and restaurants shouldn't
have to deal with bag issues.
The Little Falls Watershed Alliance is opposed to this new effort. What we think is burdensome is
picking up bags out of the creek. What we think is expensive is having to run monthly trash pick-ups - ­
even volunteer efforts cost money. What we don't want to deal with is other people's bags on the side of
the road and in the creek.
We believe that all bags are created equal. The creek doesn't know where the bags come from; the Bay
doesn't care if it's from a department' store, a grocery store or a deli. A bag in the creek is an
environmental problem no matter where
it
comes from.
We ask the Council to remember back to 2011 when the Bag Law was put in place.
It
took vision and
strong leadership to enact that Bill and it worked. It's a simple question - "Do you need a bag?" - but it
has a big impact. At all types of stores, I see people bringing their bags. And those that forget their bag
are often just carrying the item or putting it in their purse or briefcase. Every month, we see fewer and
fewer bags when we clean the creek. With your help, we can continue on this trajectory until our
there and vote NO on
volunteers have no bags to pick up. Won't that be a great day! Please help us
Bill 10-13.
Thank you for your time on this.
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TESTIMONY ON BILL 10-13,
AMENDMENT TO THE BAG TAX
Good evening members of the Council, my name is Bill Kominers. I am here
this evening speaking as an individual in support of Bill 10-13.
This Bill takes a major step in reining in the overbroad application of the Bag
Tax. I believe that this Bill brings the Bag Tax program closer to what people
originally expected it to be-dealing primarily with the purchase of food, that is not
already prepared for immediate consumption. I still have concerns about the health
issues associated with reusable bags during repeated trips to the grocery. I also still
believe that paper grocery bags should be exempt, since they are recyclable and
biodegradable. But nevertheless, this Bill is progress; and I applaud the sponsors for
taking this step.
Even I have adapted to the bag
tax
for groceries. Let me demonstrate. I have
reusable bags for the grocery. Here is the bag that I use at the Giant. Here is another
bag that I use when going to the Safeway. But still, try as I might, I can't fit into these
reusable bags those pillows from Bed Bath
&
Beyond, or that new 19 inch computer
monitor from Best Buy (which I need so that I can better watch the Council, of
course). So I applaud this Bill, which will remove the tax from bags to hold those
products.
I like to this of this Bill as a sort of "car seat preservation bill." Because now I
can safely bring home Chinese food on Sunday night. The take-out restaurant will
now be able to put the paper bag holding the food containers into a plastic bag. That
plastic bag is very important, because, as you may have noticed, every once in a while,
those food containers leak into the paper bag just a little bit ...
If this Bill is adopted, I suggest that you do some serious educational outreach
about the requirements of the law. This education would be especially valuable to
small lunch shops. Like the ones where I buy a sandwich for lunch each day. I've
tried to do this educational campaign for you, telling the sellers that "paper· is okay;
you only have to collect the tax for plastic." But they just don't seem to listen to me.
Educating them would be a good use of the revenue that the tax generates.
Speaking of revenue. I was disappointed to read the economic analysis for the
Bill. This tax was presented originally as one designed to "fade away" as behavior
was modified and people used fewer bags. So it seems to display little faith in the
effectiveness of the legislation to now budget significant operating expenses that must
be supported by revenue from the tax. If the tax is as successful as was planned, the
1
1410265.1
08502.001
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revenue will disappear. Do not be dissuaded from this refinement of the Bag Tax by a
desire to satisfY this newly-created, because-it-is-there revenue need.
In summary, with apologies to Robert Frost:
Whose bags these are, I do not know.
They bear a grocery logo though.
A nickel was paid for each ofthem.
I'll use them till I don't know when.
Each store I use must find it queer
when I spurn a bag for goods so dear.
But a nickel seems a lot to pay,
for a paper bag to take them away.
Thank you for your consideration ofmy comments.
2
1410265.1
08502.001
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17
Frances B. Maane
7806
Honeybee Ct
Bethesda, MD
20817
June
18, 2013
DO NOT AMEND CURRENT BAG TAX BILL 8-11
It is lovely to see all the members again, both new and old. My name is Frances Maane, and I support
retaining our county bag tax Bill 8-11 as is, and ask the council to reject the Bill
10-13.
I will provide the
levity and entertainment for the discussion this evening. As usually I will be politically incorrect, but
morally right.
Let's consider Ms. Fancy Pants who likes to shop at Needless Markup at the Must Have it all Galleria. Do
we really believe that she can't afford a nickel to protect our waterways? Do we really think Mr. Gotta
Lot of Bucks is not going to purchase a new shirt because of the nickel tax? Do we really think these
citizens will drive to Virginia or PG County to purchase these items? The cost of gas will far exceed the
nickel tax. Let's consider for a moment the amount of SAVINGS to the retailers, who no longer have to
provide these bags! At their board meetings, they are probably thankful for this indirect increase in
profits due to a reduction in shopping bag expenditure costs.
Saturday, I shopped at Macy's
please note the beautiful plastic bag that I willing paid a nickel to
obtain. Please note its remarkable Similarity to a grocery bag. In fact, it is probably better quality than
the grocery bags, and thus more indestructible, so it will last longer as trash in our county parks, streets
and water ways. Nordstrom's was more amusing, in that I asked the man next to me what he planned
to do with his clothing bag when returned home. He replied, "I suppose I'll recycle it." Wonderful! More
trash expense for the county! Please note, I was not charged for the bag at Nordies.
I completely and thoroughly embrace the county bag tax. In my perfect world, it would be a national law
with NO exceptions to ANY retailer. I'll demonstrate my bag collection, my freezer bag from Trader Joes,
complete with a zipper, to keep food cold or warm cost
$
10.
I've given these as gifts. The larger version
from Costco, for those big items cost
$
I,
the beautiful bag from Izaak Walton League free, and the "0h
my favorite" bag from Captain Whites Seafood, also free, as I spent
$
50
there. I even have my George
Leventhal bag, which has been used a lot. I enjoy using my bags, and encourage our county citizens to
partake in the entertainment value of displaying the various bags while shopping. If the council
members were clever, you could figure out a way to actually market the bags as a fashion statement, or
a politically correct statement supporting reduction in waste and simultaneously protecting the
environment. Perhaps we just need a horse or alligator adornment? Pink and green are quite lovely
too! How about large flowers or a pretty tan, red and black plaid print?
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Our storm drains are crumbling. We need to improve or even replace our water management system,
cutting a nickel bag tax which will merely cause the need to increase the WQPF tax is merely a smoke a
mirror approach to governing. This proposed legislation clearly shows a reluctance by the council to
stand up for what is right, rather than cow-towing to special interests, or perhaps donors like Ms. Fancy
Pants and Mr. Gotta Lotta Bucks who can't be bothered to take a bag into Needless Markup but
complains about paying the nickel tax. Clearly, they can afford the nickel tax.
If you closely read Bill 10-13, which of course I did, [Sec 1, Section 52-101 is amended, Subsection (5)] it
stipulates as exempt "a bag used to package a bulk item or to contain or wrap a perishable item." The
last time I checked, food was considered perishable, except perhaps a Twinkie. So, if a person goes to
the grocery, and puts one perishable item in each bag will that exempt the bag from the tax? Clearly,
this wasn't well thought out, or written concisely.
Here is another "fuzzy math" issue. Fiscal Impact Statement: Current bag tax revenues
$
1.8 Million
rounded, county 6 year revenue estimate is
$
6.7 million. Is this assuming a decrease in requested bags
over the 6 year period, or does someone not know how to multiple
$
1.8 x 6 years equals
$
10.8 Million
in revenue? Is the projected nonlinear increase in revenue due to a decrease in requested bags? Isn't
this our goal with the bag tax, reduce bag usage?
Leave the bag tax as is... if a few complain, then suggest they pay the nickel tax as a user tax - which is
what it is - then emphasis to them that the bag tax revenue is being used to replace our water
management system, so when they enjoy their
S
100 dollars worth of Maryland Blue crabs this summer,
they may consider that their waterways and seafood they consume are just a "bit cleaner" now, due to
the nickel bag tax they paid at the department store for the bag they threw into the recycle bin. It's
that circular thing ... kind of like Karma. We have only one environment; it is your responsibility to
protect it.
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Congratulations to the Council. Our September Sligo Creek cleanup yielded 1,400 fewer plastic bags
than in previous years. Thanks to the bag bill, plastic bags are no longer the most abundant trash item,
a position now held by plastic bottles. The bag bill is working in the stores, on the ground and in our
watershed-a resounding success. So why does Roger Berliner wish to tamper with a good thing?
The reason, he says, is confusion and anger. A shopper buying sheets at Macy's is unsure whether to bring
a reusable bag. Someone purchasing a $150 sheet set may become angry about paying 5 cents more for
a bag. I agree, there is much confusion over the plastic bag, which
in
the ocean look like jellyfish and are
ingested by confused and angry sea turtles.
Another argument is that retailers and constituents are angry with overreaching government. I remind
the Council its job to protect the vulnerable and the voiceless, such as our wildlife and waterways.
I remind the Council that Montgomery County is home to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Instead of
sabotaging a success story, the challenge is to promote the benefits of a cleaner environment.
But bags are big business. Both plastic and paper bags are made with energy and raw
materials such as petroleum, and giving them away encourages waste and the percep­
tion of worthlessness. Instead of rewarding this behavior, I ask the Council to focus
instead on becoming a leader that encourages innovation that benefits both business
and the environment. In this year's May New Yorker is a story about biodegrade­
able packaging material made with agricultural byproducts and mushrooms which
together mimic Styrofoam. Imagine this packaging made with Montgomery County
agricultural scraps. Imagine Montgomery County contributing to the replacement of
the environmental nightmare that is Styrofoam.
Form and Fungus,
by
Ian Frazier
Let us keep the momentum in Montgomery that has made the bag bill a success. Let us remember our
challenge to preserve the planet for our children. Misters Berliner, Rice, Leventhal and Ms. Floreen,
we ask you to remember the voiceless who don't vote: our waterways and our wildlife. We are watching.
Marty Ittner
Friends of Sligo Creek
www.fosc.org
Photos of Sligo Creek
by
Marty Ittner,
taken in March 2013
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R ESTAU RA N T
ASSOCIATION
IIIIllIYlAIIID
June 26, 2013
Chainnan Roger Berliner
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy
&
Environment Committee
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20850
RE:
BILL
10-13 - TAXATION - EXCISE TAX-DISPOSABLE CARRYOUT BAGS - SCOPE
Dear Chainnan Berliner:
On behalf of the Montgomery County members of the
Restaurant Association of Maryland,
we
support the provision of Bill 10-13 that exempts from the tax carryout bags that a restaurant provides
to customers to take prepared or leftover food or drink from the restaurant. This exemption
recognizes that bags used for this purpose do not generate the volume of litter that the original bag
fee sought to address. This exemption is also consistent with language in multiple bills proposed (not
passed) in the Maryland General Assembly in recent years, which defines
"disposable carryout bag
does not include a bag that a restaurant provides to a customer to take food or drink away from the
restaurant. "
We also support such an exemption because we discourage the use of reusable bags for foodservice
use because of sanitation reasons. For example, if such reusable bags were previously used to carry a
leaky package of raw poultry or other raw meats from a grocery store, a restaurant risks potential
cross contamination if ready-to-eat foods are placed into the same bag.
Finally, we support the exemption because the volume of bags used by our industry generally falls
significantly below the threshold of $100 in cumulative bag fee collections before remittance of the
tax is required.
It
would take a long time for most restaurants to use the 2,500 bags on which this
threshold is based.
It
is particularly frustrating to explain to customers that we must still charge the
bag fee even though our industry does not generate the volume of bags that the law was intended to
address.
For these reasons, we support this provision of Bill 10-13 that effectively exempts restaurants from
the carryout bag tax.
Sincerely,
Melvin R. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Government Affairs
&
Public Policy
Restaurant Association of Maryland
m
6301 Hillside
Ct Columbia,
MD 21046
410.290.6800
FAX 410.290.6882
6i)
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§
11-206
TAX - GENERAL
organization, or other nonprofit organization exempt from taxation under
§ 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code if:
(i)
the sale is made at an auction sale; and
(ii) the proceeds of the sale are used to carry on the exempt purposes of
the church or organization ...
(c)
Exemption certificate required.-
To qualify as an organization to which
a sale is exempt under subsection (a)(3) or (5) of this section, the organization
shall file an application for an exemption certificate with the Comptroller.
(d)
Determination letter.
-
The Comptroller may treat the possession of an
effective determination letter of status under §501(c)(3) or (13) of the Internal
Revenue Code from the Internal Revenue Service as evidence that an organi­
zation qualifies under subsection (a)(3) or (5) or
(1)
ofthis section, respectively..
(e)
Exemption for certain portion of auction sale proceeds.
-
For a sale
described under subsection (b)(6) of this section that is not otherwise exempt
under this section, only that part of the sale price that qualifies for a deduction
under the federal income tax as a charitable contribution under the regula­
tions and guidelines of the Internal Revenue Service is exempt from the sales
and use tax under this section.
(An.
Code 1957, art. 81, §§ 326, 375; 1988, ch.
2, § 1; ch. 110, § 1; 1989, chs. 676, 733; 1994, chs. 664, 711; 1997, chs. 382, 509;
1998, ch. 612; 2006, chs. 210, 217, 218; 2009, ch. 506; 2010, ch. 72,§ 5; ch. 509,
§ 1; ch. 510, § 1; 2012, chs. 452, 453.)
Effect of amendments.
Chapters 452 and 453, Acts 2012, effective
June 1, 2012, made identical changes. Each
added
501(c)(4) or" in (a)(8); deleted (a)(9);
and made related changes. Chapters 452 and
453, Acts 2012 deleted a prior abrogation.
Editor's note. -
Section 2, cbs. 217 and
218, Acts 2006, as amended by ch. 506, Acts
2009, and by chs. 452 and 453, Acts 2012,
provides "this Act shall take effect July 1,
2006."
§
11-206. Food.
(a)
Definitions.
-
(1)
In this section the following words have the meanings.
indicated.
(2) "Facility for food consumption" does not include parking spaces for
vehicles as the sole accommodation.
(3)
(i)
"Food" means food for human consumption.
(ii)
"Food" includes the following foods and their products:
1.
beverages, including coffee, coffee substitutes, cocoa, fruit juices,.
and tea;
2. condiments;
3. eggs;
4. fish, meat, and poultry;
5. fruit, grain, and vegetables;;
6. milk, including ice cream; and
7. sugar.
(iii) "Food" does not include:
1.
an alcoholic beyerage as defined in § 5-101 of this article;
2. a soft drink or carbonated beverage; or
3. candy or confectionery.
(4) "Food for immediate consumption" means:
122
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2012 SUPPLEMENT
§
11-206
(i) food obtained from a salad, soup, or dessert bar;
(ii) party platters;
(iii) heated food;
(iv) sandwiches suitable for immediate consumption; or
. (v) ice cream,frozen yogurt, and other frozen desserts, sold in contain­
ers of less than 1 pint.
.
(5) "Premises" includes any building, grounds, parking lot, or other area
that:
(i)
a' food vendor owns or controls;'or
.
(ii)
another person makes available primarily for the use of the patrons
of 1 or more food vendors.
.
.'." ,
(6) "Substantial grocery or market business" means a business at which at
least 10% of all sales of food are sales of gr6cerypr market food items, not
including food normally consumed on the premises even though it is packaged
~~~
.
.
.
.
.
(b) .
Sale offood stamp items.
-
The sales and use tax does not apply to a sale
of food stamp eligible food, as defined in 7 U.S.Co' § 2012,'bought with a food
_
coupon issued in accordance with
7
U.S.C. § 2016.'
(c)
Sale by food vendor.
-
(1) Except as providedin'paragraph (2) of this
subsection, the sales and use tax does not apply to a sale of ·food for.
consumption off the premises by a food vendor who operates
a
substantial
grocery or market business at the same location where the food is sold.
(2) The exemption under paragraph (1) of this subsection does not apply
to:
CD
food that the vendor serves for consumption on thepremises of the
buyer or of a third party; or'
'
(ii)
food for immediate consumption. -.
.
-'
.
(d)
Sales by certain organizations or to certain individuals.
-.The sales and
use tax does not apply t o : '
,
(1)
a sale of food.:
(i)
to patients in a hospital when the food charge is included in the
regular room rate;
(m
by a church or religious organization;
. _
(iii) by a school other than an institution of postsecondary education,
including sales at a school by a food concessionaire that is under contract with
the school or with its designated contract agent, but not including sales at
events that are not sponsored by the school or are not educationally related;
(iv) to students at an institution of postsecondary education if the food
charge' is for a meal plan or is included in the. regular charge for' room and
board; o r '
.
(v) by a nonprofit food vendor if there are no facilities for food consump­
tion on the premises, unless the food is sold within an enclosure for which a
charge is made for admission;
: ' .'
(2) if the proceeds of the sale are used to- support a bonafide nationally
organized and recognized organization of veterans of the armed forces of the
United States or auxiliary of the organization or 1 of its uiiits, a 'sale of food or
meals for consumption only on the premises, served by the organization or
auxiliary;
,
123
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§
11-207
TAX - GENERAL
(3) if the proceeds of the sale are used to support a volunteer fire company
, or department or its auxiliary or a volunteer ambulance company or rescue
squad or its auxiliary, a sale offood served by the company;department, squad,
or auxiliary;or '
;,
'
(4) a sale -of food;, 'bottled water, soft drink or carbonated beverage, or
candy or confectionery by a nonprofit food vendor at a youth sporting event or
4-H youth event for individuals under the age of 18 years if there are no
facilities for food consumption on the premises, unless the sale is within an
enclosure for which a charge is made for admission.
(e)
Sale in interstate commerce.
-
The sales and use tax does not apply to a
sale of food or any beverage
in
a vehicle that is being operated in the State
while in the'course of interstate commerce.
(f)
Sale of seafood.
-The
s~les
and use tax does not apply toa sale for
'
consumption off the premises of:
(1) crabs; or "
.
,(2) seafoodthatis not prepared for immediate consumption.
(g)'
Sale of snack food.
-
(1) In this subsection, "snack food" means:
(i)
potato chips and sticks; ,
(ii)
corn chips;
(iii) pretzels;
(iv) cheese puffs and curls;
(v) pork rinds;
(vi)
extruded pretzels and chips;
(vii)
popped popcorn;
(viii) nuts and edible seeds; or
(ix) snack mixtures that contain anyone or more of the foods listed
in
items
(i)
through (viii) of this paragraph.
(2) The sales and use tax does not apply to the sale of snack food through
a vending machine.
(h)
Vending machine sales.
-
The sales and use tax does not apply to the
sale through a vending machine of milk, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or yogurt.
(An.
Code 1957, art. 81,
§§
324,326,375; 1988, ch. 2,
§
1; 1989, ch. 787; 1990,
chs. 3, 4; ch. 6,
§
2; 1991, ch.
671~
§
1; 1992, 1st Sp. Sess., ch. 1,
§
2; 1995, ch.
641; 1996, chs.
85,
86,
115;
1999, ch. 406; 2001, ch. 29,
§
1;
2011,
ch.
364; 2012,
ch. 66,
§
1.)
,
Effect :of amendments. - Chapter 364,
Acts 2011, effective
July
1, 2011, reenacted
(a)(4) without' change; and 'added (d)(4) and
made related changes.
Section
1,
ch, 66, Acts 2012, enacted April 10,
2012, and effective from date of enactment,
redesignated (a)(2) through (a)(4) to maintain
alphabetical order.
§
11-207.' Fuel.
(a)
Residential use and residential and domestic rate.
-
The sales and use
tax does not apply to:
(1), a sale of electricity,steam, or artificial or natural gas for use in
residentia:l condominiums;
,
(2) a sale of electricity, steam, or artificial or natural gas that is delivered
124
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Registered Retailers
who Remitted the
Bag Tax
Bag Tax
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$0.04
675,741.56
377,959.92
160,524.16
136,017.44
112,975.24
100,661.56
70,314.44
64,358.80
53,925.28
48,954.28
39,180.08
39,133.36
30,924.52
29,995.04
28,715.64
28,334.08
26,088.92
24,217.68
24,180.56
23,347.24
20,012.20
19,670.96
19,315.20
18,965.48
17,674.60
17,478.92
16,884.04
15,764.56
14,919.44
13,967.76
Number
Bags
16,893,539
9,448,998
4,013,104
3,400,436
2,824,381
2,516,539
1,757,861
1,608,970
1,348,132
1,223,857
979,502
978,334
773,113
749,876
717,891
708,352
652,223
605,442
604,514
583,681
500,305
491,774
482,880
474,137
441,865
436,973
422,101
394,114
372,986
349,194
Vendor Name
Giant of Maryland, llC
Safeway, Inc.
Target Corporation
Whole Foods Market Group Inc
Maryland CVS Pharmacy, 1.1.C.
Shopper's Food Warehouse
Harris Teeter
Trader Joe's Company
DOS FRIENDS INC.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEPT. OF LIQUOR CONTROL
Macy's Retail Holdings, Inc.
HAR WHEATON, INC.
Home Depot USA.,INC.
FOR MY CHilDREN, INC.
Apogee RetailllC
FOOD LION llC
Village Super Market of Maryland, llC
Balducci's Maryland llC
EVERLU FOOD, INC.
Ross Dress For less Inc
Germantown lotte, llC
H MART GAITHERSBURG, INC.
Great Wall Supermarket of MD Inc
magruders of gaithersburg inc
Korean Korner Inc
Green Castle International, Inc.
LUCKY WORLD GAITHERSBURG, INC.
J. C. PENNEY CORPORATION INC
Kohl's Department Stores, Inc.
~
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$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
13,944.48
13,768.64
13,314.56
12,942.44
12,794.64
12,670.88
11,501.68
11,102.20
10,998.44
10,680.68
10,615.36
10,426.68
10,283.96
10,067.88
9,714.12
8,996.08
8,825.12
8,262.80
8,202.24
8,057.28
7,744.32
7,711.88
7,698.44
7,489.44
7,156.44
6,904.20
6,802.08
6,779.40
6,589.92
6,584.84
6,369.28
6,337.72
6,155.04
5,951.28
348,612 Nordstrom Inc.
344,216 Marshalls of MA, Inc
332,864 Rite Aid of Maryland, Inc.
323,561 Gap Inc
319,866 Sears Roebuck & Co
316,772 H&M, Hennes & Mauritz LP
287,542 Forever 21 Retail Inc.
277,555 Kmart Corporation
274,961 GLOBAL FOOD INC
267,017 chevy chase supermarket
265,384 Lotte Plaza
260,667 Bloomingdale's, Inc.
257,099 The TJX Companies, Inc
251,697 Weis Markets Inc
242,853 Walgreen Co.
224,902 SNIDERS SUPER FOODS
220,628 AFRICAN & CARIBBEAN FOOD CORP
206,570 Victoria's Secret Stores, LLC
205,056 Polio Campero of Maryland, LLC
201,432 Grosvenor Market
193,608
192,797
192,461
187,236
Solano Family Restaurant, LLC
BED BATH AND BEYOND INC
Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.
Big Ernie;s Inc
178,911 Michaels Stores, Inc.
172,605 BATH & BODY WORKS, LLC.
170,052 Dave West Indian Product Corp DBA The Caribbean Market
169,485 DSW SHOE WAREHOUSE INC
164,748 LA MART INC
164,621 Rodmans Discount Food
159,232 LORD & TAYLOR, LLC
158,443 MORAZAN GROCERY III, INC.
153,876 The Fresh Market, Inc.
148,782 Shalom Strictly Kosher Meats, Inc.
@)
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$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
5,644.88
5,306.00
5,073.24
4,887.52
4,877.72
4,739.20
4,709.40
4,503.32
4,440.08
4,436.32
4,408.68
3,885.76
3,808.96
3,777.28
3,743.60
3,727.24
3,514.32
3,493.04
3,485.36
3,347.08
3,280.40
3,037.24
3,033.04
2,988.72
2,915.00
2,910.60
2,797.04
2,785.52
2,760.72
2,680.88
2,675.40
2,629.84
2,629.44
2,609.36
141,122 Adad, LLC
132,650 PetSmart Inc
126,831 PANDA EXPRESS
122,188 Organic Foods Express, Inc
121,943 Five Below, Inc.
118,480 HomeGoods, Inc
117,735 Eckerd Corporation
112,583 Toys R Us Delaware, Inc.
111,002 Don Polio Inc
110,908 Pizza Brothers East
II,
Inc
110,217 Roots Olney LLC
97,144 SAR WHITE MARSH FOOD INC
95,224 Payless ShoeSource, Inc.
94,432 MORAZAN GROCERY
II,
INC.
93,590 Takoma Park Silver Spring Cooperative Inc.
93,181 Yekta Deli
&
Imported Grocer
87,858 Foot Locker
87,326 Big Lots Stores, Inc.
87,134 Strosniniders Hardware
83,677 WHZ Inc
82,010 7-eleven/11713A/2541
75,931 The Childrens Place Retail Stores Inc
75,826 AEROPOSTALE, INC.
74,718 FLAMAS
72,875 AnnTaylor Retail, Inc.
72,765 COUNTRY BOY MARKET
69,926 Starbucks Corporation
69,638 Americana Grocery of MD
69,018 Potomac Conference Corporation of SDA
67,022 CalTort Development Corporation
66,885 Kam Sam Supermarket
65,746 Lowe's Home Centers
65,736 Boolteena, Inc.
65,234 Sarku SL White Oak Inc
~
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$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
2,563.56
2,554.24
2,544.84
2,512.48
2,508.48
2,508.08
2,471.72
2,413.40
2,389.96
2,374.68
2,346.64
2,315.44
2,297.04
2,227.88
2,212.72
2,198.76
2,181.92
2,180.76
2,165.08
2,161.32
2,147.56
2,136.28
2,134.44
2,089.12
2,078.76
2,057.08
2,049.52
2,033.24
2,030.84
1,993.72
1,985.32
1,977.24
1,934.20
1,920.04
64,089 ASADO MD
63,856 Ulta Salon Cosmetics
&
Fragrance, Inc.
63,621 Angkor Supermarket Inc
62,812 A.C. Moore Incorporated
62,712 GALIZ CORPORATION
62,702 Asian Supermarket Inc.
61,793 7-Eleven, Inc.
60,335 Lerner New York, Inc
59,749 Amia Corp
59,367 J.M. Hollister LLC
58,666 7/11/2013 (SEVEN ELEVEN)
57,886 Hari Corporation
57,426 Don Polio of Bethesda, Inc.
55,697 American Polio Langley Park LLC
55,318 Abercrombie
&
Fitch
54,969 KUMAR ENTERPRISES, INC.
54,548 TSA Stores Inc.
54,519 P.N.ENTERPRISES,LLC
54,127 LONG BRANCH BEER AND WINE, INC.
54,033 Chevy Chase Marketing, Inc
53,689 SHOE SHOW, INC
53,407 Riverfalls Seafood Market, Inc.
53,361 subwaywhiteoak
52,228 The Container Store
51,969 7-eleven
51,427 BUY BUY BABY INC
51,238 DELIGHT FOODS INC
50,831 Michael Kors Retail, Inc
50,771 JAI HO FRESH INC
49,843 CHARLOnE RUSSE, INC
49,633 Rugged Wearhouse, Inc
49,431 Best Buy Stores, LP
48,355 Grape
&
Grain, Inc.
48,001 GALLARDO REYES, INC.
CD
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$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
1,888.76
1,875.64
1,839.64
1,837.16
1,806.20
1,781.56
1,752.28
1,730.52
1,728.00
1,665.00
1,653.44
1,622.04
1,620.48
1,607.08
1,597.84
1,591.48
1,553.20
1,552.08
1,549.76
1,549.56
1,539.92
1,525.12
1,523.16
1,515.32
1,486.24
1,484.72
1,478.36
1,467.44
1,461.36
1,457.04
1,455.12
1,440.00
1,432.32
1,405.84
47,219 AB AND SONS CORPORATION
46,891 Maxim Supermarket, Inc.
45,991 Taste of Europe
45,929 Rodmans Gourmet
45,155 Gymboree Retail Stores, Inc.
44,539 AE Outfitters Retail Co.
43,807 Party City - Rockville Inc.
43,263 The Salvation Army
43,200 Huezo's Management Group
41,625 MODELL'S MARYLAND II, INC.
41,336 RED APPLE FARM INC.
40,551 7/11/2013 (SEVEN ELEVEN)
40,512 Sanaie Corporation
40,177 GREAT WALL SUPERMARKET OF MD INC.
39,946 BRASAS INC
39,787 Patchara Inc.
38,830 Micro Center Sales Corporation
38,802 FASHION GALLERY, INC.
38,744 jskholding inc (7-eleven)
38,739 7-11 #22921A
38,498 LEBANESE TAVERNA CAFE-CONGRESSIONAL INC
38,128 VIE DE FRANCE YAMAZAKI. INC
38,079 whiteoak convenience store
37,883 Saks and Company
37,156 Cost Plus World Market
37,118 LA CASITA, INC.
36,959 YAMAS LlC
36,686 RRC Enterprises, Inc.
36,534 WHEATON BSC, INC.
36,426 khunya Inc./7-Eleven
36,378 Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc.
36,000 Gregg Appliances Inc
35,808 USK INC. T/A LAKESIDE BEER WINE CHEESE SB
35,146 OFFICE DEPOT, INC.
@)
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T&EITEM 1
November 4,2013
Worksession
Supplementary Packet
MEMORANDUM
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
&ichael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
Worksession:
Bill 10-13, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags ­
Scope
The attached executive branch answers to Council staff s questions were received after
original packet was prepared.
F:ILAWIBILLSl131 0 Excise Tax-Disposable Carryout Bags-ScopelSupplementary Packet.Doc
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Bill 10-13, Carryout Bags
QUESTIONS FROM COUNCIL LEGAL STAFF
QUESTION 1
How has the usage of carryout bags, and the revenue from the tax, changed since the hearing on
this Bill in June? What are the final numbers for FY 13?
Executive Staff Response
Total revenue collections for FY13 were $2.39 million for 59.7 million. For the first two months
ofFY14, collections are ahead of the pace for the first two months ofFY13. In July and August
of2012, collections totaled $375,500, for 9.39 million bags. In July and August of2013,
collections totaled $389,000 for 9.73 million bags.
Although the number of reported bags has increased, the number of vendors reporting collections
has also increased. In August 2012,928 vendors participated in reporting collections. In August
2013, 1119 vendors participated in reporting collections. The number of bags reported is
impacted by new vendors reporting bags for the first time as well as vendors intermittently
reporting only when they hit the $100 threshold under current law. The chart below shows that
there has been a steady decline in the average number of bags reported per retailer from January
2012 through August 2013.
avg
#
of Bags per Retailer Reporting
7000
6000
j . . .....................
:l'"",
5000
~
..c
4000
1'0
f····················································· .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
'0
::1:1:
3000
f·····················································............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
.
2000
I
..........·..·..........·...... · · ..........·.........·..........·..........·..........·.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
.
.
1000
o ,··..
·"············r
, ............,
........... , . . . . , ............ .,. ...... ,...... ·····T····..·······,···········,·············,
,............
, ..·..··..·..·,,·,·············, .. ·········..·c········,····· ........,
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QUESTION 2
What do we know - both anecdotally and statistically - about litter from carry out bags? Has it
shown any decline since this tax took effect? Can we distinguish litter from food stores,
restaurants, and other retailers?
Executive Staff Response
An Earth Day Cleanup was organized by DEP on April 20, 2013 through the Anacostia
Watershed Society with the help of the Parks Department and the Eyes of Paint Branch
watershed group, and was attended by over 50 volunteers from various local community groups
and non-profit organizations. At this cleanup, volunteers removed 15.1 lbs. of plastic bags and
plastic bag pieces from a stream in the White Oak neighborhood.
In
addition to grocery store
bags, there were bags with logos from other "non-food" stores including Sears, Sprint and Wal­
Mart.. There were also plastic bags from restaurants such as Subway - which are taxed under
current law but would be exempted under Bill 10-13.
In
testimony at the June 18,2013 public hearing on Bill 10-13, the Rock Creek Conservancy
CRCC) reported that between April 2011 and April 2012, the number of plastic bags collected in
Montgomery County dropped from 5,274 to 3,957 - a decline of 25% just a few months after the
bag law went into effect.
In
2013, it dropped again to 3,722, a decrease of29% from 2011
levels.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation reported that data collected by volunteers in 2012 compared to
that collected in 20
II
showed a 50% reduction in the number of bags removed from sites in
Montgomery County.
In
an article in the Capital Gazette on February 2,2013:
The Parks department stated that data from volunteers at 78 sites showed a decline in the
number of bags removed from the 2012 Earth Day Cleanups on parkland.
Craig Muckle, Manager of Public Affairs for Safeway, reported that "In Montgomery
County, Safeway saw a 70 percent drop in plastic bags' use at the checkouts from 2011 to
2012." He noted that Safeway experienced similar results in the District of Columbia
after the carry out bag law took effect.
Source for points above:
http://www.capitalgazette.comlnews/regionlmontgomery-waterways-show-results-from-bag­
tax/article 6Icb5676-labf-5130-b478-fa5e2e3c88ad.html#.UOIMMAcedlw.gmail
The DEP trash monitoring data for the Montgomery County portion of the Anacostia does not
show a similar trend in reduction of plastic bags or other trash. All ofthis data is collected in
the streams and on the streambanks, over varying seasons, and would need to be evaluated
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relative to rainfall and weather events prior to the actual collection dates before a trend can be
documented.
The best statistical data is included in a report soon to be released by DDOE on their bag bill,
which has been in place for over two years. That report will show that:
• Two-thirds of residents (67%) are seeing fewer littered plastic bags compared to three or
four years ago.
• An overwhelming number of D.C. residents (80%) said they have reduced their usage of
disposable bags since the law went into effect.
• On average, residents estimated their household has moved from using ten
disposable bags a week before the law to four bags a week in 2013.
• Four out offive D.C. residents (80%) are carrying reusable bags with them when they
shop; 58% are carrying them "always" or "most of the time."
• A majority of residents (53%) support the disposable bag fee law, compared to only 16%
who said they are "bothered" by it. Almost one-third (30%) said they have no feelings
about the law either way.
• Businesses reported, on average, a 50% reduction in disposable bags actually being used
based on bag numbers, boxes, or costs.
QUESTION 3
What have other jurisdictions done lately, and what has been the effect? Have any adopted a tax
like ours? Did Los Angeles prohibit plastic bags but not paper?
Executive Staff Response
Eight carryout bag laws have passed since June 2013. All of these laws ban plastic bags and
charge a fee for paper bags. Additionally, one city in California updated its law to include
restaurants, and one city increased the charge for paper bags.
Two other jurisdictions have adopted bag laws similar to ours, including Washington, DC, and
Boulder, CO. Brownsville, TX charges a flat fee of$1 per transaction for non-reusable paper
bags (thin plastic bags are banned) and consider very thick and strong plastic and paper bags to
be reusable.
Los Angeles has banned plastic bags and is requiring a 10 cent charge for paper bags. The stores
that are required to adhere to the law are retail stores with over $2,000,000 gross annual sales,
stores of at least 10,000 sq
ft
of retail space, or a drug store, pharmacy, supennarket, grocery
store, convenience store, food mart, or other entity engaged in the retail sale of goods that
include milk, bread, soda and snack foods, including those stores with a Type 20 and 21 license
issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Links to nationwide bag law info:
http://www.cawrecycles.org/issues/plastic campaign/plastic bags/national
 PDF to HTML - Convert PDF files to HTML files
http://www.surfrider.orglpages/plastic-bag-bans-fees
Link to info on Los Angeles law:
http://dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/aboutthebag/F AQ stores.cfin
Links to summary of Boulder, CO law:
Boulder steps to law implementation.docx
Boulder, CO bag law staff discussion.docx
QUESTION 4
Does the Executive branch still believe, as you contended in your testimony, that stores will have
difficulty knowing whether they have to pay the tax or are exempted? I will forward my email to
you from June, where I questioned that conclusion; no one from the Executive branch replied to
that email.
Executive
Staff
Response
We believe that the current law is now widely understood but that there are probably some stores
that still do not know whether they should be collecting the tax. We believe that broadening the
types of stores who are exempt from the tax to include retail stores that do not meet the 2% food
sales threshold could cause confusion among County residents regarding which stores/purchases
allow them the choice of avoiding the bag tax by using a reusable carryout bag.
The bill does not define "food", You have suggested using the State's definition of "food" for
the sales tax (Tax General Article, Section 11-206). Does that definition make sense in this
context? State law excludes the following types of food from the sales
tax:
(1) alcoholic
beverages; (2) soft drinks or carbonated beverages; (3) candy; (4) food to be consumed off
premises that is sold by a food vendor who operates a substantial grocery or market business at
the same location where the food is sold; (4) crabs or seafood that is not prepared for immediate
consumption, Why should these types of food sales be excluded from the categories of food
sales that are counted towards the 2% threshold that triggers the bag tax?
If
these types of food
are placed in plastic bags, what is the difference between them and other types of food for
purposes of make policy decisions relating to the bag tax?
The bill does not specify the reporting period for the 2% food sale threshold. Does the 2% food
sale threshold apply to weekly sales? Monthly sales? Annual sales?
The 2% food sales threshold could lead to enforcement issues and more public confusion -­
because there is no way for the department to know if a retailer meets the threshold. If the bill
moves forward, one option is to amend the bill to allow retailers to "opt in" to an exemption
from the bag tax by filing with the department an affidavit (or on-line form or something similar)
which shows foods sales as a percent of gross sales for the appropriate reporting period.
Q