Duluth Council Tables Plastic Bag Ordinance Again to Hear from Dept. of Revenue

Some councilors want questions about taxability to be answered, others say it's time to vote.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Duluth City Council has once again tabled a plastic bag ordinance that would require businesses to charge customers five center per single-use bag.

This time, councilors want to hear back from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, to find out whether or not the fee would need to be taxed.

The bag fee has been in front of the Council since September. It has gone through several readings and has been changed to exclude paper bags from the fee.

Now councilors voted 8-1 with Em Westerlund opposed to table the ordinance once again, much to the dismay of several people who spoke out at the meeting.

The Council heard from a few people who support the proposed ordinance, urging the Council to vote in favor of it.

For the first time, the crowd heard from businesses who oppose the ordinance.

Two representatives from the West Duluth Menards spoke out against it, saying a fee on plastic bags would hurt their customer base.

“I did the math and the amount of bags in the West Duluth Menards last year would result in $60,000 in additional fees to our guests,” a front-end manager said. “Duluth has a higher tax rate than neighboring communities such as Superior and we already are losing business to the Superior Menards due to that.”

As the proposed ordinance goes back to being tabled, some City Council members said it could have been passed, since it wouldn’t take effect for another five months, giving Council enough time to hear back from the Department of Revenue.

“I am not supportive for a motion to table tonight,” Third District Councilor Em Westerlund said, “in part because I do think that the lead time we have before implementation is reasonable for us to get some clarity from the Department of Revenue on the taxability of this fee once it is implemented.”

The proposed fee would charge five cents for every single-use bag at all retail establishments, such as grocery stores, clothing boutiques and more.


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