Local Officials Urge State Lawmakers to Keep NYC Bag Fee

The fee would place a 5-cent surcharge on each paper or plastic bag

What to Know

  • NYC officials wrote to top lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo asking them to oppose state legislation that would repeal the city's upcoming bag fee
  • Last week the state Senate voted 42-18 to stop the bag fee from going into effect on Feb. 15
  • Opponents of the fee say the charge amounts to a regressive tax; those in support of the fee say bags are an environmental hazard

Mayors, city council members and other local officials from around New York state are urging lawmakers not to overrule New York City's fee on plastic bags.

In a letter Wednesday, more than 50 local leaders wrote to top lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to oppose state legislation that would block the fee.

The officials argue that cities around the state, nation and world are using bag fees to reduce litter and say the state shouldn't interfere with a local decision.

Starting on Feb. 15., retail stores in New York City will impose a fee of 5 cents or more on single-use plastic shopping bags. Retailers will keep the revenue from the fee.

"Good environmental policy, and good public policy in general, requires this kind of innovation and experimentation at the local level," the local officials wrote. "We strongly urge you to oppose any legislation that would roll back progress to protect the environment and address climate change."

The officials argue that cities around the state, nation and world are using bag fees to reduce litter and say the state shouldn't interfere with a local decision.

Critics of the fee say it will place an unfair burden on low-income residents. Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, is a leading supporter of the bill to stop the fee from going into effect.

"Many families have a hard time just getting by, paying for groceries, rent and heat," Felder said. "This will hurt lower- and middle-income families who already struggle."

Legislation to block New York City's bag fee passed the state Senate 42-18 last week and is now pending in the Assembly. It also needs the approval of Gov. Cuomo. 

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