November 4, 2013
Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
Bill 10-13, Taxation - Excise Tax - Disposable Carryout Bags
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
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
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.