ALBANY — The state Senate and Assembly are moving to delay the nickel fee for using disposable shopping bags, part of an environmental measure adopted by the New York City Council.
The Republican-led Senate approved the measure Monday by a 43-16 vote. On Friday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said his chamber would also seek to delay the city ordinance this week because of an outcry by consumers, who said the measure could be a further burden on poor shoppers.
“We took concrete action to stop Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council’s punitive bag tax,” said Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who sits with the GOP conference and sponsored the bill.
The 5-cent fee isn’t a tax, but goes back to the store. Supporters feel it will greatly reduce the use of the disposable bags and encourage use of reusable bags made of canvas and other material.
The state legislation is aimed at cities with more than 1 million population, which affects only New York City and can supersede a local law.
“While the Senate is trying to find ways to make New York State more affordable, the city’s new tax does just the opposite and instead places an additional burden on families who are trying to make ends meet,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).
Environmentalists praise the city law that was adopted last year and was scheduled to be implemented Feb. 15. Exceptions include carryout restaurants. The bill narrowly passed the City Council and was supported by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been a frequent target of the Senate’s Republican majority after he tried to help Democrats take the Senate’s majority.
The Senate and Assembly majorities have agreed on a single bill. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he will review the bill if approved by both houses of the legislature.
Last year, the city of New York approved legislation that would impose a fee on carryout bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste,” said Heastie on Friday. “My state Assembly colleagues and I share in this goal to improve our environment. However, we have heard from many constituents concerned about the financial burden as well as other factors that could negatively impact our communities if this law goes into effect.”