Mainers Weigh In on Portland Bag Tax and More

Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Curtis Picard

Retail, Small Business, Sales Tax, Bag Tax, polystyrene, environment

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Portland Committee Advances $.05 Bag Tax. City Council Next Step

On Wednesday, May 21, Portland's Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee voted 3-1 to advance an ordinance adding a $.05 bag tax to paper and plastic check out bags. Councilors Marshall, Donoghue, and Hinck voted in favor of the tax while Councilwoman Cheryl Leeman opposed the measure. The endorsed ordinance now moves to the full City Council likely in June.

In short, the bag tax would:

The Retail Association of Maine, the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association, the Maine Restaurant Association and a number other business groups have opposed the ordinance. Retailers already collect and recycle unwanted bags and other plastic film by the ton and encourage customers to use reusable bags when possible. Portland should also consider putting lids on their citywide recycling bins to prevent lightweight materials from blowing around on windy days.

Critical Insights Poll Shows Strong Opposition

In May, RAM commissioned a poll as part of the semi-annual Critical Insights Maine Tracking Survey. We asked more than 600 Mainers four questions in reference to the Portland ordinances on bag taxes, polystyrene bans and the ongoing discussion to increase the minimum wage in Portland. The full results are here and they support what our members have been telling us about these issues:

Our Portland members have told us that the City Council should focus more on supporting their business community instead of trying to regulate it. Many point to the elimination of the city's parking ticket forgiveness program and the ongoing discussion of a "rain" / stormwater tax as other examples of not supporting the business community.

Both the bag tax and the proposed ban on polystyrene foam containers like coffee cups and "clamshell" take out containers are expected to be taken up by the City Council in June.


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