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Baltimore's Plastic Bag Ban Proposal Advances Through Committee, Heads To Full City Council

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A proposal to ban Baltimore retailers from giving out plastic bags is one step closer to becoming law.

A city council committee advanced the legislation on Monday. It would only allow the use of bags for certain items like fresh fish, meat or produce.

The proposal would also require stores and restaurants to charge five cents for other types of bags, including paper.

Four cents of the fee would go back to retailers.

The effort marks the ninth time the city has tried to push a plastic bag ban.

Earlier this month, the council's judiciary committee approved an amendment pushed by retailers that would only ban "thin plastic" bags.

The full city council will have a preliminary vote on the ban Monday.

Much of the discussion about the legislation revolved around a possible statewide ban that could possibly be passed in 2020.

Retailers who have long been opposed to the city ban now want to work with lawmakers in Annapolis to try to work out new legislation that would work better for businesses.

President of the Maryland Retailers Association Cailey Locklair Tolle said it's very hard for businesses that operate multiple locations across the state to comply with different plastic bag bans that are already in effect.

She said her organization will work to make sure that the law benefits as many residents as possible so their costs don't go up if a state ban goes into effect.

"There is a huge cost differential between plastic bags which would be banned and the cost of paper and we need to make sure that retailers aren't the ones being punished ultimately for this law," she said.

Councilman Bill Henry introduced the plastic bag ban in Baltimore. He said he won't know how a new state law could affect the proposed city ban until it passes.

"When they're passing bills in Annapolis, they make a conscious decision whether they will preempt local legislation," he said. "Right now, we're just moving forward on making Baltimore City better."

State Delegate Brook Lierman told WJZ she plans to propose a statewide plastic bag ban soon. It would not be the first time a bag ban has been proposed in Annapolis.

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