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Two Howard County Council members will introduce a bill next month requiring a 5-cent fee on disposable plastic bags.

County Council Chairwoman Christina Mercer Rigby and Councilman Opel Jones announced Friday morning that a bag fee bill will be introduced Nov. 4 during the council’s November legislative session meeting.

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If passed, the bill would require a 5-cent fee for disposable plastic shopping bags that are 2.25 millimeters thick, the release states. The bill would go into effect July 1 to offer “a six-month grace period for retailers to become acclimated to the law."

During the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session, the Howard County delegation advanced a bill sponsored by Del. Terri Hill to permit the County Council and the county executive to impose a fee, up to 5 cents, on plastic bags.

“This bill is a proactive solution to hopefully decrease the usage of disposable plastic bags while generating revenue for environmental causes," Jones said in a statement.

The fee’s revenue would go toward a newly established Disposable Plastics Reduction Fund, which would be used for reusable bags, stream cleanups, anti-littering education, environmental education programs focusing on water quality, and public education about methods and benefits of reducing the use of disposable plastics. The Howard County Office of Community Sustainability and partners would enact these programs and initiatives.

"The rampant overuse of disposable plastics is a significant danger to our environment, our wildlife, and a sustainable future in Howard County,” Rigby said in a statement. "I am incredibly grateful to the community voices and advocates that have organized around this much-needed change, ensuring that we leave behind a clean planet for our children."

Jones said he is excited to introduce “this historic legislation” with Rigby.

"As a parent and council representative, I believe it is imperative to protect, promote and enhance practices which will ensure an eco-friendly future for our children and growing community,” Jones said.

Howard residents will have an opportunity to testify about the proposed bag fee and other bills Nov. 18 beginning at 7 p.m. at the George Howard Building.

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