General Assembly shelves bag tax bill; SGA spends 20 minutes debating it anyway

Wednesday night, the SGA threw its support behind a county-wide 5-cent plastic bag tax that had already died in the General Assembly earlier that day.

The body spent more than 20 minutes — the greatest debate of the night — discussing the tax, ultimately voting 10-4 in favor of a county implementation that many Student Government Association members passionately argued would better the environment. However, the vote may not mean as much in Annapolis, where the Prince George’s House delegation voted to shelve the bill hours earlier.

Robert DiMauro, the SGA bill’s sponsor, said he was aware the county legislation had failed Wednesday, noting there was “a lot of back and forth” between himself and Senior Vice President Matthew Popkin on whether to continue with the scheduled vote.

“A lot of things were transpiring as the meeting was going on,” DiMauro said. “I think it worked out in the end. There wasn’t any harm going over it that night. I think it’s still important for us to have a stance on this issue.”

The bill can still be revived. The House delegation can consider the issue two more times, the entire county delegation can vote on the bill even without the sub-committee’s endorsement. The bill needs at least 12 of the 23 county delegation votes to go in effect.

Next week, legislators will vote on the proposed Community Cleanup and Greening Act of 2012, which would place a statewide — rather than county-wide — additional charge on bags.

“This is not a dead issue,” Popkin said last night.

— Lauren Redding

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