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Don’t tax Baltimore residents, target litterbugs who toss plastic bags in the street

A man walks out of a store with a plastic bags in New York City. File.
A man walks out of a store with a plastic bags in New York City. File. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In The Baltimore Sun’s article about the Baltimore City Council’s bill to replace plastic bags with paper bags (“Paper or plastic? Baltimore City Council weighs pros and cons of cutting that choice in half," Aug. 6), what I thought was an environmental bill about eliminating trash is in actually a tax on city residents collected by its merchants. Not only will merchants have to cover the costs of the more expensive paper bags, they will have to charge a nickel for them, sending four cents of it to the city coffers. This is a tax.

This is similar to the city installing speed cameras, supposedly for student safety, but with the actual intent of using them as a major revenue source.

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The reason plastic bags are a problem is because people do not dispose of them properly. What’s next, charging customers a nickel for using paper bags because of paper litter in the city?

The article notes the complaint by proponents “every day in the city, plastic bags are thrown out and go on to clog tributaries and harm wildlife.” This is a behavior problem caused by people trashing the streets and the behavior will not change by taxing city residents not doing the litter. All stores should instead have a receptacle, like some already do, for returning used plastic bags.

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This city should not tax city residents and increase costs for merchants for actions not done by them but by unthinking litterbugs.

Charles Herr, Baltimore

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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