A 25-cent Colorado plastic bag tax proposed by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Court

Author: Joey Bunch - January 13, 2018 - Updated: January 18, 2018


State Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Court think plastic bags can help fund affordable housing.

The bill, if passed, would refer a measure onto the ballot to ask Colorado voters to approve a tax on plastic bags from the supermarket. The tax would be a quarter, the same amount whether the customer at the checkout counter uses one bag or several. The proceeds would go to grants and loans to local governments and building contractors to build or retain affordable housing in Colorado.

The text of House Bill 1054 can be read by clicking here.

Compared to runaway housing prices, the bag tax comparably is a small price to pay, The tax, they project, could raise $50 million a year.

“No matter where I go or who I talk to, the sky-high cost of housing is the number one concern that I hear,” Rosenthal said in a statement.

Court said, “Even with the construction of a large number of new condos, the leases are expensive and not bringing down the cost of housing in the city,” she said. “We see many areas of the state dealing with this issue—it’s not just the Denver metro area.”

As a bonus, the tax would encourage the use of reusable or paper bags and raise awareness of plastic bag waste in Colorado.

“Plastic bags pollute and litter our environment, plus they’re an eyesore and they don’t biodegrade,” Rosenthal said. “We have to be far more aggressive when it comes to curbing our daily waste, which only adds to the mountainous heaps of garbage that currently litter our state.”

Several Colorado cities already tax plastic bags, “proof that the system works in the state,” according to Rosenthal.

Boulder passed a 10-cent fee on all disposable paper and plastic bags and reduced in 2013, and the next year bag use dropped 69 percent in the city, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

The bill carves out exemptions for restaurants and those eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.


  • Essie C.

    January 13, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Why do these city dwellers always thin what’s good for the city is what’s good for the WHOLE STATE? Sounds like several politicians could use a seriously long trip outside their own bubbles.

  • George Kline

    January 14, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    It’s just another tax – nix it,
    Plastic is recyclable, we do it well so far,
    Paper is cumbersome, weak when wet,
    So what if pigs and scrum let fly airborne plastic high.
    Into trees and hedges they’ll do the same for paper.

  • Jane

    January 15, 2018 at 8:46 am

    The Dems are always greedy for other people’s money…so they can make all the rest of us pay for their own pet projects. Dems are such a wasteful bunch of ungodly hypocrites.

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