The following article can be found in the March 23rd, 2017 edition of

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The ‘Bag Tax’ is back, and a key legislative committee says it should start this October.

It would require a nickel tax on non-reusable bags at the supermarket and other retailers, and the bill has passed the Environment Committee with both Democrat and Republican votes.  One estimate says that Connecticut residents use nearly one billion plastic bags a year.  This proposal is aimed at cutting down the litter and raising money.

The legislature’s Environment Committee has approved a bill that would make State Park Beaches no smoking zones.  Smoking would still be permitted in the parks, just not on the beaches where cigarette butts kicked under the sand can be a problem.

But the bill that’s getting the most buzz is the one approved calling for a 5-cent per bag fee, really a tax, on one-time use bags. The ones at the supermarket, convenience store, and other retailers.  It’s estimated the nickel fee could generate as much as twenty million dollars.

It would be a dedicated stream of cash to help pay for the maintenance and keeping state parks open so that they would be insulated from the coming state budget cuts.  The Democratic co-chair of the committee, Senator Ted Kennedy Junior of Branford calls it a ‘win-win’ idea that will also reduce the use of the bags.

Republican co-chair Craig Miner of Litchfield also voted for the bill for many of the same reasons saying, “Taxes don’t make me feel good. It’s an uncomfortable place for me to be in.”

But the bill also would guarantee a source of cash for fish stocking as well as pheasant hunting programs that have been jeopardized by budget cuts last year.  Miner added,  “We’ve had a hard time, as a legislature, keeping the funding in place for park maintenance, hatchery maintenance, staffing at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.”

But despite the laudable goals, the vote for the ‘bag tax’ doesn’t sit well with many of of Senator Minor’s Republican colleagues. In Republican thinking this is putting the cart in front of the horse.
“I am generally opposed to the ‘bag tax’ because I think the discussion needs to first revolve around our spending. We shouldn’t be having conversations about new revenue streams,” said Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Haven) the Deputy House Minority Leader.

Another bill approved by the committee would phase out the nickel deposit on bottles and cans but there is another bill still working its way through the General Assembly that would double the nickel deposit to a dime.