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P.G. County bag tax proposal stalls

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A proposed 5-cent bag tax in Prince George's County stalled Wednesday in the county's General Assembly delegation, but lawmakers say the bill will get another shot at approval this year.

The Prince George's House delegation's six-member County Affairs Committee voted 3-2 in favor of the tax, but failed to receive the necessary constitutional majority of four votes because a sixth member was absent.

The tax had received strong support from county officials, who said it would reduce littering and pollution and downplayed its revenue impact. The County Council voted 8-0 on Tuesday in favor of the tax, but Prince George's law requires that the county receive state approval before implementing any new taxes.

The restriction does not exist in many other counties, including Montgomery County whose County Council approved its own 5-cent bag tax last year.

Delegate Justin D. Ross, chairman of the County Affairs Committee, called the proposal's failure a minor roadblock but acknowledged lawmakers are largely divided on the issue.

"I'm going to have to bring it back up next week," said Mr. Ross, Prince George's Democrat who voted in favor of the bill. "I would say it's stalled, but advocates and supporters are hopeful they can get the bill going again."

If the bill passes the committee, it would be voted upon by the county's 23-member, all-Democrat House delegation. If approved, the assembly would likely defer to the county's decision, barring any major concerns, and pass the tax into law.

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