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Denver Plastic Bag Fee Could Be Instated Next April, Fights Likely To Ensue

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This Aug. 3, 2009 photo shows a clerk bagging groceries in plastic sacks at the M Street Grocery in Seattle. After Seattle officials passed a 20-cent tax on each paper or plastic grocery bag, the nation's first, the plastic industry poured nearly $1.4 million to defeat the measure. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) | AP

Denver may become the latest city to join in on the plastic bag fee trend that appears to be sweeping the state.

If Denver adopts the fee, shoppers will have to pay an extra 5 cents per plastic bag, which is still 5 cents cheaper than other cities in the state like Breckenridge, Boulder, and will be 15 cents cheaper than the fees adopted in Aspen and Carbondale.

According to the Denver Post, City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega sees the proposed ordinance as a way to protect the environment and encourage people to turn to reusable bags.

Yet since introducing the idea, Ortega has drawn anger from lobbyists and others who are complaining that the fee is actually a tax and needs to be addressed under TABOR.

TABOR, also known as the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, is a controversial constitutional amendment that Colorado voters passed in 1992 mandating that the "state and local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval."

"This is an opportunity for Denver to lead," Ortega is quoted as saying in The Denver Post.

The city's mayor, Michael Hancock, hasn't said yet where he stands on the issue.

If passed, the fee wouldn't begin until April 1.

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