- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2012

Prince George’s County residents won’t have to worry about paying for plastic grocery bags for at least one more year.

A House committee killed a proposal Saturday that would have brought a 5-cent bag tax to the county, rejecting a tax that was heavily favored by county officials and supported by a slim majority of the county’s House delegation.

The House Environmental Matters Committee voted 12-11 in favor of the bill, but it was given an unfavorable report due to its failure to receive support from a majority of the committee’s 24 members.

Delegate H. Wayne Norman Jr., Harford Republican, was absent from the vote.

The bill would have imposed a tax on plastic and paper bags at grocery stores and many retailers in the county. It would have made Prince George’s the state’s second county to adopt a bag tax, following Montgomery County’s 5-cent tax which took effect in January.

Supporters said the tax would help to reduce litter in neighborhoods and waterways and was designed to curb pollution rather than produce revenue. However, opponents worried it would add to grocery bills and disproportionately affect shoppers in poor communities.

Of the 23 committee members who cast votes, the bill had support from 11 of 17 Democrats and one of six Republicans.