MINNEAPOLIS - The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to put the brakes on a proposed 5-cent retail bag fee, that would apply to plastic, paper and new reusable bags.
Council President Barb Johnson floated a successful motion directing staff to explore ways that such a fee could be dedicated to anti-littering efforts, rather than pocketed by the retailers collecting the surcharge.
The author of the proposed ordinance, City Council Member Cam Gordon, decried efforts by the plastic bag industry to turn the tide with robocalls and a media blitz. Gordon said retailers wouldn't reap huge profits from the bag fee because eventually, the ordinance would have the effect of people bringing their own reusable bags to the stores.
Several council members expressed concerns that any fee should be studied more carefully, with consideration given to the impact on lower income residents of Minneapolis.
The Council last year enacted a ban on plastic bags, which also included a fee on paper bags. That ordinance was nullified by the Minnesota Legislature just days before it was to take effect June 1. The "plastic bag freedom" bill was one of several efforts by Republicans in the 2017 session to preempt or rein in local initiatives in Minneapolis, including a higher minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave.
Republicans folded the plastic bag provision into a larger budget bill which was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton in order to avoid a state government shutdown.