“Both last year and this year, I have had continuing complaints from seniors and others in my district who object to the ‘bag tax,’” Sen. Addabbo noted.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Legislation that would prohibit the imposition and/or collection of any tax, fee, or local charge on plastic grocery bags is now under review by the Assembly Committee on Cities after the State Senate recently approved the bill in a floor vote of 42-18.
Last year, the City Council moved to enact legislation that “would impose a minimum fee of 5 cents for plastic or paper bags at retail, convenience, and grocery stores, with limited exceptions.” A month later, Albany pressed pause on the law.
“There is no question in my mind that we need to take action to end the proliferation of plastic bags that clog up our storm drains, drape our trees, and otherwise degrade our environment and landscape,” State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said last week. “However, I don’t think the law that was approved and then delayed last year by the City imposing a fee on shoppers who use plastic bags is the right solution, nor the best idea the City could come up with. Both last year and this year, I have had continuing complaints from seniors and others in my district who object to the ‘bag tax.’”
Indeed, a Marist/NBC4 New York/Wall Street Journal poll conducted over the phone in May 2015 found that 63 percent of adult New York residents opposed such a measure.
“It’s a regressive tax that will burden seniors and low income families the most,” said City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who has characterized the surcharge as “just another way to nickel and dime New Yorkers, who already pay some of the highest taxes and utility rates in the nation.”
Addabbo echoed Ulrich’s nay vote.
“Instead of simply punishing consumers, we should be looking at other ways to address the plastic bag glut,” the senator added. “Maybe it is time to work towards an outright ban on plastic bags, which has occurred in other states and countries, or encourage the retail use of plastic bags that are biodegradable. Maybe we should make it easier to recycle plastic bags so that fewer end up in our waste stream, or better educate consumers on how to reuse bags instead of immediately tossing them in the trash.”