Duluth City Council takes step to push bag fee back

City councilors are pushing Duluth's bag fee back to Jan. 1, 2021. City councilors are pushing Duluth's bag fee back to Jan. 1, 2021. |  Photo: WDIO-TV

Updated: March 23, 2020 08:43 PM

After a Duluth City Council vote Monday night, the city's plastic bag fee ordinance will likely not take effect until Jan. 1, 2021. 

Stores were set to start charging 5 cents per bag on April 1. 

At Monday's meeting, Councilor Joel Sipress brought forward the option of pushing the ordinance's implementation back to July 1. But Councilors Arik Forsman, Derek Medved and Renee Van Nett wanted to delay it further, amending the start date to Jan. 1, 2021. Their amendment was approved unanimously but requires final approval at the next meeting on April 13.

"Hopefully by the time things settle down, we can just move forward and not have to deal with this issue again," Forsman said. 

He said he was already looking into this issue prior to the COVID-19 pandemic because a constituent brought up a concern about reusable bags bringing pathogens into grocery stores. 

Forsman and Medved said as elected officials, they have "bigger fish to fry" right now and don't need to be focusing on the bag fee again. 

"We have the severe economic stress that many, many in our community are under," Sipress said. 

Councilor Zack Filipovich said he believes the waiting period will give grocers and stores some certainty during a time of so much uncertainty. 

The controversial fee was approved in Nov. 2019. It applies to single-use plastic bags, excluding those containing produce or meat and from pharmacists. 

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