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The Denver Post reports that the Denver City Council is expected to vote on a proposal that would impose a five cent charge for disposable plastic shopping bags handed out by supermarkets ands convenience stores. The five-cent charge is actually less that that imposed by other Colorado cities; Aspen imposed a 20 cent charge two years ago, and Boulder recently imposed a 10 cent charge on paper and plastic bags.

What makes the Colorado situation particularly interesting - some would say vexing - is the state law called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which says that such charges, if they are considered fees, must be used to finance specific services utilized by those paying the charge. If there is no such service, then the charge is considered a tax, and is subject to a popular vote by residents.

Critics suggest that the rationale behind the Denver proposal is "spongy," and that a legal challenge to any imposition of fees is likely.
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