State lawmaker will push for taxes on retail bags - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

State lawmaker will push for taxes on retail bags

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

It's a proposal that we've heard once before and now a central Virginia lawmaker says it's time to re-visit it but this time, he's making a major change. The controversial issue involves whether you should pay an additional sales tax when you receive shopping bags when you check out of a store.

When you visit the grocery store, you usually have the option of paper or plastic and now Delegate Joe Morrissey just announcing Friday, he's proposing a tax on both. This development comes after hearing from what he calls a "major grocery retailer."

"They would support the bill if it also included a tax on paper bags as well and that's fine with me," Morrissey said.

Many shoppers, like David Smith aren't excited to hear this proposal, since they receive store issued bags on every grocery run.

"Groceries are expensive these days," Smith said.

But it's a move to help save the environment, Morrissey says. Money generated from the tax would go to just that.

"Recycling plastic so to put back into furniture and other things, it would go to litter control and cleanup, it would go to cleaning up our rivers and tributaries," Morrissey said.

He first proposed the idea last year, initially as a 20 cent sales tax just on plastic bags, but it never passed the legislature. He's now tweaked the idea, presenting it as a 5 cents sales tax on both paper and plastic.

"I mean, I can bring my own bag," said shopper Sherry Dobie-Davis.

That's Morrissey's idea. Retailers would get 1 cent from the tax automatically and 2 cents if they encourage shoppers to bring in their own bags. Stores that don't charge the tax would be cited $250 the first time and that fine would double on following offenses.

"I wouldn't like to pay that 5 cents," said shopper Jerome Thomas.

Many shoppers we found say it's going to take a lot more to sell them on breaking away from the tradition of receiving bags for free at check out.

"There's too much taxes now," Thomas said.

"I think there are probably other ways it can be done without adding a tax," Smith said.

The concept is nowhere close to being a done deal. It has to make its way through the General Assembly when it re-convenes in January. If it passes, it would go into effect July of 2014.

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