In June, Prince George’s County Council passed a “Better Bag Bill:” legislation to ban plastic bags and place a 10 cent charge on paper bags. Bills like these are an important step forward for the environment and great Zero Waste policy - but must be made in coalition with food access and equity organizations to ensure that any potential concerns are addressed.
Unfortunately, the demands of food access and equity organizations were not heard in the initial Better Bag Bill that passed this summer. When fees are charged for paper bags, it's important to take into account how this impacts people using SNAP/WIC: federal rules mean that SNAP/WIC funds can't be used to pay for bag fees. Prince George's County's Better Bag Bill, as it passed this summer, allows for cash and credit customers to get a paper bag for a small fee in a pinch; but without a fee exemption, many SNAP/WIC customers will find themselves unable to get a bag at all when it's really needed. That's not equitable. Fortunately, there's a simple, proven solution: a targeted fee exemption for SNAP/WIC transactions. Many states, counties, and cities across the country have included this equity exemption in bag legislation with great success. Now, Councilmember Oriadha has introduced CB-079-2023, legislation to exempt transactions using SNAP/WIC from the paper bag fee to address the demands of food access and environmental justice stakeholders before the Better Bag Bill goes into effect in January.
We're working with Maryland Hunger Solutions, the Prince George's County Food Equity Council, Centro de Apoyo Familiar, and many economic justice and environmental partners to support Councilmember Oriadha's legislation and add the SNAP/WIC fee equity exemption to the bill. Please add your voice in support of a more equitable Better Bag Bill for Prince George's County: click below to email your representatives!
UPDATE: On Thursday 9/28, the County Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee voted on CB-079-2023. At the committee meeting, representatives of Clean Water Action, Maryland Hunger Solutions, and the Prince George's County Food Equity Council spoke out in support of the legislation, and representatives of County Executive Alsobrooks also expressed strong support - demonstrating that the SNAP/WIC fee equity exemption is equitable, practical, and the right move for Prince George's County. Despite this support, three members of the five-member committee - Councilmembers Watson, Hawkins, and Ivey - voted against the bill. Council President Dernoga and Committee Chair Olson voted for it.
But it's not over yet! Please email your representatives to thank those who supported and urge those who didn't to reconsider their vote by filling out the information below.
CLEAN WATER ACTION | MARYLAND OFFICE 1120 N Charles St #415, Baltimore, MD 21201 Phone: (410) 235-8808
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