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The Howard County Council on Monday evening will vote on legislation requiring a 5-cent fee on disposable plastic bags.

The vote comes a month after County Council Chairwoman Christina Mercer Rigby and Councilman Opel Jones introduced the bill at the Nov. 4 legislative session meeting.

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“It’s really about reducing single-use plastic and changing consumer behavior around plastics,” Rigby said Monday morning. “I’d really like my kids to grow up in a future where they go to a river and they don’t see plastic trash polluting our streams and harming our environment.”

According to the bill, the revenue from the bag tax would be used to establish a program that will provide reusable bags to vulnerable individuals in the county; make grants to entities engaged in water quality and water pollution education; support environmental education programs including stream cleanups and anti-littering education; and create activities to educate the public about the benefits and methods of reducing the use of disposable plastics.

“This legislation is a necessity to reduce single-use plastic. This is the first step in the right direction,” Jones said Monday.

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. The County Council has spent the fall discussing the bill, ultimately leading to Monday’s vote.

If it passes, the bill will be enacted July 1 and will be effective 61 days after that.

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