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State Lawmakers Consider Plastic Bag Fee

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)- State lawmakers are considering a bill aimed at charging more for plastic bags.

Plastic bag bans and fees are nothing new. Four cities in Colorado have outlawed plastic bags and another half dozen charge cities have an additional fee for them.

Plastic Bags
Plastic bags (credit: CBS)

But, Rep. Paul Rosenthal, a Democrat representing Denver, says it's time the state took action.

XGR BAGS plastic bags
Rep. Paul Rosenthal (D) Denver (credit: CBS)

"In the off session, I'm a teacher and our school is right next to a garbage dump and I see that thing going up every single year and I just think, we need to do more as a state to make sure we recycle more and we use more renewable and reusable bags when we go to the supermarket."

Fort Collins Plastic Bags
(credit: CBS)

His idea? To reduce plastic bags and increase affordable housing. His bill would impose a 25-cent flat tax regardless of how many bags you use. The money would be used for affordable housing grants.

Shoppers like S.A. Bennet are sold, "I think that's a great idea. There's too much plastic in the world already and if that provides affordable housing for people, I 100 percent back it."

But some lawmakers aren't convinced, "If you like your plastic bags, you should be able keep your plastic bags. We don't need to tax them."

Rep. Patrick Neville, a Republican representing Castle Rock, says the bill would hurt not help people's ability to afford housing.

XGR BAGS plastic bags
Rep. Patrick Neville (R) Castle Rock (credit: CBS)

"Adding more taxes when people are already having trouble affording things has the opposite effect. It makes Colorado less affordable."

He says the state needs to lower the cost of living overall so people have more money to afford rent and mortgage payments.

If the bill passes, it would go to a vote of the people. First, it has to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Rosenthal wouldn't speculate on its chances, "I have no idea if the bill is going to pass but it's something that we need to pursue because both affordable housing and our overuse of plastic bags are both issues that are really tremendously important in the state of Colorado today."

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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