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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

With legislators from southwest Brooklyn leading the charge, the state Assembly on Monday, February 6 overwhelmingly passed a year moratorium on the pending five-cent fee on disposable bags, which was slated to go into effect February 15

With State Senate passage of the bill having taken place some weeks ago, it is now up to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill or veto it. The Assembly passed the moratorium, 122-15. This is the second delay for the city’s bag fee, which was initially supposed to go into effect last October.

“Hopefully Governor Cuomo will sign the Assembly’s legislation to stop the madness, and suspend this ridiculous tax from going into effect,” noted Boro Park Assemblymember Dov Hikind, who joined local assemblymembers including Nicole Malliotakis, Peter Abbate and William Colton in opposition to the bag fee. “This is just another burden on hard-working taxpayers, and we cannot allow New Yorkers to be nickeled and dimed.”

 

Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz agreed. “New Yorkers deserve better than to have their pocketbooks robbed in what amounts to a misguided attempt to help the environment,” he said. “New York State has already proven that recycling plastic bags is possible, and it is up to the city to figure out how to remove and recycle bags before they reach landfills.” he said.

Nonetheless, environmentalists are against the effort to nullify the bill. Statistics indicate that New Yorkers throw away 10 billion plastic bags, amounting to 7,000 garbage truck trips to landfills, and costing New York City taxpayers more than $12 million every year.

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, of Sunset Park, is one. “I am reintroducing legislation to ban the use of disposable plastic bags by all merchants in the state of New York,” he said, contending, “It’s about time that New York go the ‘full measure’ and join California and over 150 other communities across the United States to take this major step forward to protect the environment. Disposable plastic bags are a nuisance. They litter our streets and subways and are clearly harmful to nature. Let’s stop debating taxes over these bags and do the right thing: eliminate them completely.”

New York City Council Member Brad Lander, the bag fee bill’s prime sponsor in the Council, concurred. “With the federal government set to eliminate hard-fought climate protections, the fate of our environment rests with state and local policymakers,” he said, stressing, “Now is a time for innovation at the local level to protect the environment and address climate change, not for rolling back the progress we’ve made through thoughtful, deliberative policy making. I strongly urge all New Yorkers to oppose Albany’s attempts to consign New York City to the proliferation of plastic bags in our waste stream for years to come.”

A concern for advocates of the bag fee is that the state legislature is trying to push the question back until it is taken up by a new City Council, with many of the fee’s supporters term-limited out.

“Albany is aiming for yet another delay, this time until after a new City Council is seated in 2018. The legislature’s new bill prevents this Council from amending or reauthorizing their own law, clearly hoping that the next Council will not have the political will to stand up to Albany’s bullying,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We are extremely disappointed in the Senate and Assembly for advancing a bill that is bad for the environment, bad fiscally, and just plain bad policy by unfairly singling out only New York City. For these reasons, Governor Cuomo must veto this bill.”

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Jim February 14, 2017 / 10:51AM
Mayor DeBlasio said last night that the cost of living is too high in NYC but he and his lackey Brad Lander want to add a nickel charge per shopping bag - both plastic and paper proving that it is bull that this is all about the environment. Gov. Cuomo needs to step up to the plate and sign the bill ending this madness on the part of DeBlasio & Lander. The reusable cloth bags being pushed by Lander actually harms the environment more than our currently used plastic bag in the following ways: 1)Cloth bags use more energy - petro fuels than plastic and therefore increases global warming 2) The reusable bags are made in China and contain unknown chemicals which will cause harm to people's health in the long run 3) In contrast to Chinese made bags, all plastic bags are made in the USA and create good paying union jobs 4) If one is concerned about plastic bag litter which clog up our sewers and wind up in our oceans, just imagine what happens when these reusable bags rip and get drop immediately in the street which really clog up our sewers and when they wind up in our oceans and rivers the amount of damage that happens as it will take scores of years for them to break up in contrast to plastic which disintegrate in much shorter time. 5) Reusable bags carry viruses and caused an epidemic among high school girls in California 6) Just because California banned these bags doesn't mean we have to here - we see what is happening with all the environmental protection in that state this week with the Lake Oroville Dam about to burst so California has its priorities all screwed up since this dam could have been reinforced but instead the money was transferred to planning a high speed railway network which still hasn't been built. 7) New Yorkers live by mass transit and we have the fewer cars of any city - we shop on our way home and carry our groceries after work from the subway and bus stops and it is ridiculous to expect us to carry ugly reusable bags which don't hold much or heavy items like milk, juice, cans, bottles, melons, etc. 8) Phony environmentalists claim we can wash these reusable bags when they get dirty or smelly - did anyone take into consideration the amount of valuable water used to clean these bags and that the hot water needed is heated by fossil fuels? If New Yorker City wanted to do something about plastic bags, then why tax paper bags - which are 100% recycled - too? Why doesn't the city work on the recycling of plastic bags which would be a much better approach and help our environment in a positive manner without placing us, the working class - under the additional stress of forking over nickels for every bag. Gov. Cuomo - sign this bill ASAP.
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Jill February 14, 2017 / 10:28AM
I agree with Jim 100%. Sen. Felder and his colleagues in the Assembly need to be congratulated for standing up for doing the right thing in protecting struggling New Yorkers who have enough stress in our daily life to have to deal with shelling out nickels here and there for each of our free shopping bags. Gov. Cuomo needs to sign this bill and stand up to do the right thing today, before this regressive tax starts. This nickel fee benefits no one except the stores who get to keep this nickel. The question I have for city officials - why doesn't the city encourage people to recycle plastic bags instead of taxing the people more?


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