NY State Senate Votes to Repeal NYC Bag Fee Bill, Dealing Blow to City

What to Know

  • The New York senate has voted to repeal a bill placing a 5 cent charge on plastic and paper bags
  • Opponents of the bill say the charge amounts to a regressive tax; those in support of the bill say bags are an environmental hazard
  • The repeal still needs the approval of the state Assembly and Gov. Cuomo

The New York state senate on Tuesday voted to repeal New York City’s plan to place a 5-cent fee on plastic bags, dealing a blow to the city.

Lawmakers voted 42-18 to stop the bag fee from going into effect on Feb. 15 as scheduled.

Opponents of the 5-cent-a-bag fee say it’s a regressive form of taxation because of its potential impact on low-income families and small businesses.

Supporters of the bag fee hope to discourage the use of disposable plastic and paper bags in an effort to help the environment. The city's sanitation department estimates 10 billion bags a year are tossed in the trash — roughly 19,000 per minute.

The repeal still needs the approval of the Democrat-led Assembly and the signature of Gov. Cuomo to block the fee.

The New York City Council passed the bag fee bill last year. It would require most merchants to charge customers at least a nickel for each bag, including those made of paper. Technically, the fee isn't a tax, as stores will get to keep the money they collect.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has a goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, said he would sign the bill.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed a charge for bags in 2008, but the idea failed to attract support from the City Council. The current bill was introduced in 2014 and has been amended to slash the per-bag fee from 10 cents to 5 cents. 

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