Should voters decide on fees for grocery bags? That’s up to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court indicated Tuesday that it would hear the case brought against Aspen by The Colorado Union of Taxpayers.

Grace Tan, right, bags up a grocery purchase for Angela Coffer and her daughters at a Gladstone, Missouri Walmart. (Courtesy of Walmart)
Grace Tan, right, bags up a grocery purchases for Angela Coffer and her daughters at a Gladstone, Mo. Walmart. (Courtesy of Walmart)
Grace Tan, right, bags up grocery purchases for Angela Coffer and her daughters at a Gladstone, Mo. Walmart. (Courtesy of Walmart)

The Colorado Supreme Court will weigh in on whether Aspen residents should have voted on the city’s 20-cent fee for disposable paper bags at grocery stores.

The court’s ruling will likely have ripple effects for local governments across the state, especially those that want to avoid the ballot box when introducing new fees.

The Supreme Court indicated Tuesday that it would hear the case brought against Aspen by The Colorado Union of Taxpayers. The group claims the city violated the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — aka TABOR — when its council created the bag fee in 2011.

The Colorado Court of Appeals and a district court judge have already determined The Colorado Union of Taxpayers is wrong in its assessment of the situation. But the Supreme Court may offer another opinion.

The plaintiff group argues: “If the judgment of the Court of Appeals stands, then governments and courts will have little direction on what charges require a vote, and what charges are exempt from TABOR,” according to The Aspen Times.

The Supreme Court plans to determine “what standard of review a court should apply when deciding whether the levying of a charge by a local government, without voter approval, violates TABOR.”

The Times reports that the issue will likely not be decided this year. Other cities with bag fees include Boulder, Carbondale and Telluride. Fort Collins repealed its fee in 2014.

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Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia covers business and trends for Denverite. He's covered business for The Fort Collins Coloradoan and serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.