New York lawmakers closing in on deal to ban plastic bags

Bernadette Hogan for NY Post

Originally published in The New York Post

Lawmakers are close to a deal to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the state, sources said Tuesday.

At the same time, they’re considering a 5-cent fee on paper bags.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-L.I.), chair of the Committee on Environmental Conservation, said the ban is “about changing the culture” and he is committed to seeing an agreement included in the state budget, due April 1.

“I go to 10 or more elementary schools every year, all the kids all say do something about waste and plastic. It’s in our parks and streams and beaches,” he added.

Kaminsky wants to exempt low-income residents — SNAP and WIC benefit users — from fees and ensure a revenue split between local governments and the environmental protection fund.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) on Monday said he’s discussed the measure with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate, saying his members are “clearly ready to ban plastic bags.”

“But … if you’re going to charge a fee on bags, what does it do?” he added. “We’ve always felt if you’re going to charge a fee, it has to go to an environmental purpose.”

Cuomo on Friday said he supports a plastic bag ban, but that the sticking point is paper bag fees.

“Some people think it hurts poor people who would wind up paying the fee, and then some people think there shouldn’t be any fee unless it’s dedicated to an environmental fund,” he said.

“I would be open to compromising on the handling of the paper bags, or letting the localities decide, but I don’t want to lose the plastic bag ban for disagreement over the paper fee.”

Several local governments in the state already have their own laws banning plastic bags.