Senate Passes Legislation To Halt Implementation Of Suffolk County Bag Tax

John J. Flanagan

June 21, 2017

The New York State Senate passed legislation advanced by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), that would prohibit any tax, fee or local charge on shopping bags in Suffolk County.  This legislation (S6717) would halt the implementation of the county’s bag fee that is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2018 and help protect consumers by enabling them to keep more of their hard-earned money.

The original Suffolk County legislation, which was sponsored by Legislator William Spencer, was approved by a vote of 13-4 in September of last year.  It would impose a five-cent charge per bag at stores regardless of whether the bags are paper or plastic and all funds collected would remain entirely with the retailer.

According to Senator Flanagan, this new tax would not only place an unnecessary financial burden on the residents of Suffolk, but would also fail to address environmental concerns since none of the five-cent fee would go toward any environmental purpose or awareness campaign.

Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo has already declared that he would be convening a Statewide Task Force in an effort to take a comprehensive approach to this issue.  That commitment makes the Suffolk County bag tax unnecessary.

The legislation advanced by Senator Flanagan is identical to a recently enacted state law prohibiting the City of New York from imposing a bag tax on its residents.

“We must continually think of this issue from the standpoint of consumers to make sure we don’t unduly place burdens on the hardworking families in Suffolk County.  While we all care deeply about our environment, Suffolk County's bag tax will deliver no funding for environmental protection while negatively affecting shoppers in our county.  For me, that makes this a nonstarter and I look forward to working with the Assembly to make sure we protect our residents,” stated Senator Flanagan. 

The legislation was sent to the Assembly for further action.