Maine Associated Press
A state legislator says he's not giving up on his attempt to impose a fee of 20 cents or so on plastic grocery bags as a way to prod consumers to shift to bags that are reusable.
Bar Harbor Democrat Ted Koffman proposed the idea this fall but legislative leaders declined to bring it forward during the coming session, which is reserved for emergency bills.
Koffman, who co-chairs the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee, says the switch to reusable bags would be beneficial because plastic bags harm the environment and it takes a significant amount of oil to produce them.
Koffman plans to meet this week with representatives of the Maine Grocers Association to discuss voluntary action to curb the use of plastic bags. But he says he doesn't intend to give up on his legislative proposal.
My Take on this.
About 15 years ago here in the State of Maine retailers and grocers began promoting the use of plastic bags. The reasoning was twofold; it was cheaper for the stores to use plastic and it was supposedly Ecologically friendly as paper requires trees to produce. In the past 15 years paper has virtually been eliminated as an option for customers to carry home their goods in. Subsequently this has effected the Paper Industry as well. Maine's Paper Industry is essentially defunct at this point.
So, many years pass, and now we are told that the plastic bags that were alleviating the "ecological crisis " are actually hurting the environment as they take so much oil to produce. Perhaps there is some truth to this but I ask what next? Will the Gentleman from Bar Harbor be attempting to " Tax" canvas bags next, as they are produced in a factory? This legislative attempt is ridiculous in the extreme but is important as an example. An Example of the lack of common sense in the State House. What a waste of time, energy and money to pursue such a frivolous bill.
Mr. Koffman is proposing a 20 cent fee to each bag used. According to his interview on WGAN radio this morning the revenues from this fee would not go into the state coffers. So, Mr. Koffman, where would it go? To the stores? the bag manufacturers? I see no purpose in that except to increase revenues for the business. I do not believe for one moment that the State of Maine, with its penchant for tax revenue, will not be getting a piece of the take. Our representatives, ( I use the name loosely ) already have brought the Maine taxpayer to his/her knees through creative accounting and hidden fees. Mr. Koffman would have us believe that this revenue stream would be " Hands Off " to the state. I daresay this is completely false and misleading or Mr. Koffman needs a bit of a vacation.
I wonder too, if Ted, has been watching the news of late. The price of Crude oil was up to $99.00 a barrel just the other day. Now I'm no economist, but does not that translate into higher production costs for manufacturers, including companies like Campbell's, Coca-Cola etc? And do not these Manufacturers pass on said cost to their consumers? Of course they do. That is one of the reasons, with the falling Dollar, that a gallon of milk costs $5.00 and a loaf of bread $3.00. So Mr. Koffman lets just add another $1.00 to the average supermarket visit. Thus burdening the already strained resources of the Maine citizen. If you haven't noticed Ted, Maine is in the northeast of the United States, thus winters tend to get a bit cold. With the increase of home heating fuel costs to $3.17 a gallon Mainers who are already over burdened with taxes, will be struggling to heat their homes. But that's OK isn't it? so long as you get to impose another fee and further your self interests it doesn't matter does it. A Representative is someone who represents the people in politics. Is this bill really representing the constituents of Bar Harbor?
What about the Lobster man, Clam Digger, and Fisherman? Are not they constituents of Bar Harbor? Has not the Legislature regulated these industries to the strangling point? When these families cannot make ends meet through the legislation of the industries Mr. Koffman wants to add an extra cost to their daily lives, rather than face the fact that, the problem isn't paper or plastic. The problem is Reality or Fantasy. Maybe instead of meeting with the grocers, Bar Harbor's distinguished Gentleman should make his way to the State House and see if he can wrangle up a little tax relief for his voters? A novel idea, I know, a politician that actually does his job.