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Lawmakers to Consider Fees on Plastic Shopping Bags

AUGUSTA, Maine_ Just a few weeks before Portland's single-use packaging ordinance goes into effect, the state is considering its own crackdown  on plastic shopping bags.  A trio of bills before the legislature would impose a 5 cent fee on each lightweight plastic shopping bag requested at the store.
But business owners are not so pleased with the measures called for in the proposals.

"There's a requirement that retailers stock reusable bags for purchase, " says Curtis Picard of the Retail Association of Maine. "and in some cases retailers would be collecting fees and giving a portion of those to the state. So in our mind, that's a tax."

But proponents say the effort isn't meant to create hardship for retailers, or new taxes, but to cut down on the plastic waste that winds up in ocean systems. Such plastics can break down into toxic micro-plastics that harm sea life.

Public testimony on the bag bills will be heard  Monday.