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Maryland May Ban Plastic Carryout Bags at Retail Shops

By MADISON HUNT
Capital News Service

SILVER SPRING, Md. (Feb. 9, 2021)—A Maryland House committee on Friday voted to approve a bill prohibiting all retail establishments from distributing a plastic carryout bag at the point of sale.

HB314, the Plastic Bag Reduction Act, cross-filled with SB223 in the state Senate, would tackle the plastic pollution problem in the state, advocates said.

Advocates for the bill said reusable bags create less waste, reduce the state’s carbon footprint and will better the environment long term.

“Every step that we can take to reduce our society’s reliance on single-use plastics is a nod to our children’s future,” said Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore. “We want them to be able to go to the beach where their only concern is jellyfish, not plastic bags.”

There isn’t a facility that can properly recycle plastic bags in Maryland because they damage the machines, Lierman added.

“In some of our county departments of waste they have to pay people to pull plastic bags out of the recycling machines, and if they don’t end up in our recycling they end up in our water supply,” Lierman told Capital News Service.

Mr. Trash Wheel, a solar-powered vessel, has collected more than 700,000 plastic trash bags from the Inner Harbor since 2014, according to the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. 

However, the machine’s technology can’t separate plastics from the rest of the trash, so they are incinerated to create electricity,  Mr. Trash Wheel’s website states.

Kate Breimann, state director of Environment Maryland, said this ban is the first step in changing behaviors around single-use plastic.

“We need to change from single use to reuse,” Breimann said.

Montgomery, Howard and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City charge a 5 cent tax on plastic bags.

A Maryland Sierra Club survey states these fees have cut down single plastic use by more than half in some local grocery chains. 

In 11 Maryland counties, 85% to 99% of customers brought their own bag or no bag at all when the store did not provide plastic carryout bags and charged for paper and reusable bags, the survey found.

Beginning July 1, 2022, all retail establishments would be prohibited from distributing any bag less than four mils thick to any customer unless the bag contains: prescription drugs or live fish, multiple plastic bags, fruits or vegetables provided by a farm or orchard, among other authorized uses, the bill states.

The change would cost about $82,000 in the first fiscal year to hire an attorney in the Maryland Department of Labor to help implement the law, according to a state fiscal analysis. 

At the local level, funding is expected to increase to enforce the bill, but small businesses will be impacted the most, the bill states.

Small businesses have until the effective date to switch to non-plastic use.

Last month, the bill had hearings before the Senate Finance and the House Environment and Transportation committees. 

Zachary Taylor from the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance testified in opposition to the bill during the House hearing, citing the added burden it would put on small businesses that are already struggling due to the pandemic.

“For small businesses who are hurting it’s going to take them a long time to recover,” Taylor said. “Banning plastic bags are going to have them acquire alternative, more expensive products with costs that they cannot afford.”

This bill was passed through the House and a Senate committee in the previous session, but ultimately failed after the Legislature ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill now advances to the House of Delegates for a vote of the full chamber.

The Senate Finance committee has not yet scheduled a vote on its bill.

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HomeLight and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers Launch the Black Real Estate Agent Program to Support Aspiring Black Agents
Program is the first of its kind, providing financial, educational, and career support for aspiring Black real estate agents to help them achieve high-production success

By PRESS OFFICERS
NAREB / HomeLight

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2021)—HomeLight, the real estate technology platform that empowers people to achieve better outcomes when buying or selling their home, announced today the launch of the Black Real Estate Agent Program in partnership with the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the largest and oldest minority professional real estate trade association in the United States. The HomeLight-NAREB Black Real Estate Agent Program—the first program of its kind in the United States—will provide financial, educational, and career support for aspiring Black real estate agents across the country, helping them achieve high-production success.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, Black Americans represent less than 6 percent of all real estate professionals. The HomeLight-NAREB Black Real Estate Agent Program will seek to increase the number of top-producing Black agents in real estate, with the ultimate goal of helping improve the rate of homeownership for Black Americans across the country.

As part of the program, HomeLight and NAREB will help cover many of the onboarding costs for new agents up to $5,000, including pre-licensing classes, agent exams, and select marketing and technology needs. Each program participant will be paired with an experienced NAREB Realtist who will serve as a mentor and advisor. Participants will also receive ongoing training and education above and beyond that which brokers typically provide.

“Our goal is to drive sustainable, structural change by increasing access to job opportunities as well as education around how systematic racism has impacted the real estate industry,” said Sumant Sridharan, Chief Operating Officer at HomeLight. “We’re excited to partner with NAREB to offer this program to aspiring Black real estate professionals. Together, we believe we can fundamentally shift diversity and equality in our industry by increasing access to training, education, and support for Black real estate agents.”

“NAREB applauds and welcomes the partnership with HomeLight. Our association’s goal to achieve Democracy in Housing cannot be reached without the increase in the ranks of Black real estate professionals. Agents are the frontline and introduce homeownership to prospective clients. We are confident that this new program will not only equip Black American program participants with the knowledge and practical experience to become top producers in their communities but also significantly expand Black homeownership in their communities,” said Lydia Pope, President-Elect at NAREB.

Applications are open immediately. HomeLight and NAREB are actively seeking aspiring Black real estate professionals who are:

• Between the ages of 18 and 35

• Interested in a career in real estate, but not currently established as an agent

• Willing to work with a NAREB broker during at least their first year in real estate

• Committed to spending five to ten hours per week working with mentors or on continuing education

• Located anywhere in the United States

“In the aftermath of the racially stoked unrest in 2020, NAREB and HomeLight formed a working partnership to increase the number of Black Americans in the real estate profession. This initiative works to close the income and racial wealth gap in the industry. As important, our efforts are designed to increase Black homeownership. Together, we're holding open the door that would otherwise remain closed to Black professionals and consumers,” said Antoine Thompson, National Executive Director for NAREB.

For more information and to sign up, visit the Black Real Estate Agent Program.

 

HomeLight is a real estate technology platform powering the best real estate agents in the United States, building the future of how people buy and sell homes. HomeLight provides a variety of software and services to home buyers, sellers, and real estate agents at every step throughout the real estate journey, from finding a top real estate agent to accessing a network of cash buyers through HomeLight Simple Sale™ and providing innovative financing solutions through HomeLight Trade-In™. Each year, HomeLight facilitates billions of dollars of real estate on its platform. HomeLight is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in Manhattan, Scottsdale, and Seattle. Visit www.homelight.com.

 

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) was formed in 1947 to secure the right to equal housing opportunities, regardless of race, creed, or color. NAREB has advocated for legislation and supported or instigated legal challenges that ensure fair housing, sustainable homeownership, and access to credit for Black Americans. At the same time, NAREB advocates for and promotes access to a business opportunity for Black real estate professionals in all the real estate disciplines. NAREB annually publishes the State of Housing in Black America (SHIBA) report. For more information, visit www.nareb.com.

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