Vermont lawmaker's proposal to tax plastic and paper bags draws criticism

Paper or plastic, it doesn’t matter. A Vermont lawmaker wants to implement a 10-cent tax on disposable bags.

Critics, meanwhile, just want to bag that plan.

Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, isn’t providing much evidence as to why the tax is needed. State and federal government data don’t provide much of a strong case either.

Businesses required to enforce the tax would be allowed to keep a penny, but the rest would go to the Vermont Department of Taxes. While Hartwell’s idea would only take aim at certain types of stores, its effects would reach every corner of the state.

“The ones we’re after are distributed mainly by big operations: supermarkets, big box stores and so forth. We intend to let those smaller firms out of this program because it really shouldn’t apply to them. They use bags, but they’re specialty items. They’re very attractive. They’re often reused,” Hartwell said.

Instead, it’s the “cartload” of plastic bags that come out of the supermarket and end up in a landfill, he’s mainly targeting.

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