City Starts Implementation of Nickel Fee For Plastic Bags

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The City’s Department of Sanitation this week began sending out notices to stores throughout the city that the coming five-cent fee on all plastic bags will become law effective February 15, 2017.

The notices come after the City Council in May passed the fee for consumers to purchase the plastic bags and with the money going to shopkeepers, which would have gone into effect this month.

However, after lawmakers in Albany pushed back against the ordinance, with the senate outlawing it unanimously, and the assembly poised to do the same, the city agreed to wait until February to put the law into effect – while amending its wording more to the assembly’s liking.

The ordinance passed the City Council, 28-20. While City Council Member Brad Lander (Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) was a prime sponsor of the bill, a majority of the Brooklyn delegation voted against it, 8-6. Opposing the measure were Council Members Inez Barron, Robert Cornegy Jr., Chaim Deutsch, Mathieu Eugene, Vincent Gentile, David Greenfield, Darlene Mealy and Mark Tryeger.

Sen. Simcha Felder
Sen. Simcha Felder

Boro Park State Sen. Simcha Felder sponsored the measure in the senate to outlaw the five-cent fee, which he argues is nothing more than another tax on the poor and working class. Staten Island Democrat Michael Cusick sponsored the measure in the assembly, and it appeared to have enough support to cancel the nickel fee, when the city came to an agreement with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to postpone its implementation.

“It is clear that the vote to delay this bag fee was just a political ploy by the City Council to silence the wide-spread criticism of this additional tax on New Yorkers. They lied and deceived us,” said Bob Capano, manager of a Gristedes supermarket and a Republican candidate for Gentile’s term-limited council seat next year.

“In February, hard-working families and seniors on fixed incomes will now have to shell out more money just to take their groceries home. My customers are irate about this law. All of these ‘progressive’ policies are progressively bad for New York,” he added.

City Council Member Brad Lander
City Council Member Brad Lander

Lander said while the plastic bag got a short reprieve, its’ days of littering our trees, parks, and oceans, clogging up our storm drains and recycling equipment, and filling up our landfills with tons of solid waste are numbered.

“We thank the Assembly for refusing to go along with the Senate’s anti-environmental overreach, and look forward to working with them toward thoughtful implementation,” he said.

But Cusick Spokesperson Andrew Crawford said while there has been discussions with the assembly on amending the city ordinance, an agreement has not been reached.

“If there is no agreement reached both Sen. Felder and Assemblyman Cusick will re-introduce their bills in January,” said Crawford.

Crawford said that Cusick said he believes he has enough support to outlaw the ordinance as there is a “ton of overlap” between the number of progressives in the City Council who voted against the ordinance, and assembly members who also do not support it.

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