Bag the bag fee bill, says retailers group
Credit check bill to get hearing next week
A proposal to charge consumers for plastic bags at grocery stores will hurt retailers, says Patrick Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association.
On Thursday, there will be a panel discussion on the proposal coordinated by the environmental group Trash Free Maryland Alliance in the House Office Building. The planned bill, which had yet to be filed Thursday afternoon, will be similar to a law in Washington, D.C., that charges consumers 5 cents for each plastic bag at stores that sell food and liquor. Advocates say that law has raised money for conservation efforts and cut down on trash.
The retailers group advocated against a similar fee in Baltimore city last year, coming up with a compromise, Donoho said. Participating merchants could still give out plastic carryout bags if customers ask for them. The stores would collect the bags for recycling, offer reusable shopping bags for sale and post signs encouraging customers to use reusable bags.
"It seems it would be better to focus on improving recycling programs as a whole," Donoho said. For instance, more could be done to improve the recycling rate in Annapolis, he said.
In other state news:
-Bills that would prohibit employers from considering a job applicant's credit history in the hiring process are slated for hearings next week.
The credit check bills would allow for exemptions that include federal or state law, financial institutions insured by a federal agency and investment advisers regulated by the government.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce opposes the legislation, saying that in a competitive labor market, employers need flexibility to use factors to choose the best candidate. The House bill is slated to be heard at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Economic Matters Committee, while the Senate version is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday in the Finance Committee.
-InvestMaryland Day has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 16 in the Miller Senate Office Building. Hearings for bills on the proposed investment program are slated for that day at 1 p.m.
-Bills planned by Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) to increase the minimum hourly wage and boost transportation funding had not surfaced as of Thursday afternoon.
The transportation legislation is expected to include a gas tax increase and a rise in motor vehicle registration fees. Chambers, including the Maryland and Montgomery County chambers, support increasing the gas tax as long as the money goes toward transportation improvements.
Business leaders are not similarly enthused about increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 by 2013.
"In this economy, it's not wise to be adding costs to small businesses," said Ellen Valentino, Maryland state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.