Opponents fight city on 5-cent plastic bag fee
GOP urging shoppers to contact lawmakers
In the wake of a state Senate vote to try to stop New York City from implementing a new law to force shoppers to pay a five-cent fee for a plastic bag in a supermarket, the Brooklyn Young Republicans and City Council hopeful Bob Capano held a press conference outside a Foodtown supermarket in Bay Ridge on Sunday and urged residents to contact their legislators and demand that the surcharge be dropped.
While the Senate voted to kill the plastic bag fee, the state Assembly has yet to take action. State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park-Midwood) is leading the effort to get the fee eliminated.
The City Council passed legislation last year that was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Holding plastic bags outside the Foodtown at 9105 Third Ave., leaders of the Brooklyn Young Republicans and Capano charged that the plastic bag fee is really a tax and that the tax is unfair to shoppers. They urged shoppers to contact their state Assemblymembers.
The new law will go into effect on Feb. 15. Retailers will be required to charge customers five cents for every bag or face stiff fines.
“They want to tax everything that moves, and some things that don’t. New Yorkers are already the highest taxed people in the nation and this is adding insult to injury,” Capano said.
Capano is one of several candidates seeking to run this November for the seat in the 43rd Council District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) that is currently represented by Democrat Vincent Gentile. Gentile is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.
Vito DiGiovanni, president of the Brooklyn Young Republicans, charged that the city “is taking advantage of its people” by imposing the fee on plastic bags.
Opposition is also coming from other quarters.
The Conservative Party of New York State pointed to the results of a poll that showed that New Yorkers don’t want to pay for plastic bags when they shop.
According to the poll conducted by BK Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm, New York City voters oppose the fee by a 62-36 percent margin. In Brooklyn, the margin is even larger: 68-29 percent opposed.
“This poll clearly shows that New Yorkers are tired of taxes and tired of fees. They’re saying that New York is already unaffordable, and all the bag tax passed by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council does is make things worse. At the end of the day no one wants another tax, especially this one,” said Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said.
But supporters of the city’s new law said the effort to reduce the number of plastic bags used by New Yorkers is a noble one because it will help the environment.
Jordan Levine, a spokesman for the New York League of Conservation Voters, told the New York Times that New Yorkers discard 10 billion bags a year. “Yet a countless number of additional bags never make it to landfills and end up in our streets, trees, beaches, lakes and rivers, where they take millions of years to biodegrade and harm wildlife,” he told the Times.
Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Park Slope-Windsor Terrace-Borough Park), who first introduced the plastic bag fee legislation in the City Council, told the Times that while he understands that residents are reluctant to pay a fee, there is a way around it. He suggested that shopper bring a reusable bag to the store.
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