ANNAPOLIS -- The Prince George's County House delegation has passed a local bag tax, clearing the way for county officials to establish their own fee on bags similar to other jurisdictions in the region.
Lawmakers expect the bill will easily pass the county's Senate delegation as well, allowing the Prince George's County Council to establish a tax on disposable plastic and paper bags.
Prince George's council members overwhelmingly backed the legislation, led by a push from Councilwoman Mary Lehman, D-Laurel.
The council voted 8-0 in support of the bag tax. Only Councilwoman Karen Toles, D-Suitland, failed to back the bill by abstaining from a council vote.
Del. Barbara Frush, D-Prince George's, said she expects the council will create a 5-cent fee similar to taxes in the District, which has taxed bags since 2010, and Montgomery County, which began its own 5-cent tax on Jan. 1.
"It's a done deal," Frush said. "It enables the county to move forward with it. I trust the county. They're not going to go and say we want a dollar per bag. It'll be a nickel, I'm sure."
Prince George's delegates voted 12-9 for the bill, which struggled to gain traction last year and failed to garner the full support of the delegation's county affairs committee this session.
Unlike Montgomery County, which has its own taxing authority, Prince George's requires the General Assembly's permission to implement new taxes.
Montgomery County's tax generated $154,000 in revenue in January, the first month of the program.
Officials argue that fees in the District and now Montgomery County have generally been accepted with little concern from residents. And the fee is well worth the positive effects on the environment, according to Del. Justin Ross, D-Prince George's.
"None of the kids in any of our neighborhoods should have to walk past trash on the way to school," he said.
The bill must still pass the full General Assembly, but lawmakers traditionally honor the vote of county delegations.
State lawmakers also are considering a statewide bag tax bill, legislation that has failed to pass the General Assembly for several years.