Southwest Brooklyn continues to fight impending bag fee

January 25, 2017 Jaime DeJesus
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Southwest Brooklyn continues to be up in arms over the five cent fee for plastic and paper carryout bags at supermarkets that is slated to be implemented starting Wednesday, February 15.

On Tuesday, January 17, the Senate passed a bill sponsored by Boro Park State Senator Simcha Felder and supported by a bevy of local pols including Assemblymembers Peter Abbate and Nicole Malliotakis and State Senator Marty Golden, to stop the city bag fee law from being implemented 42-18, but the state Assembly has not yet taken up the matter.

To put the pressure on, a press conference was held by the Brooklyn Young Republicans and City Council candidate Bob Capano, on Sunday, January 22 outside Foodtown, 9105-27 Third Avenue, imploring Bay Ridge residents to contact state legislators to put a stop to the fee, and calling out Councilmember Brad Lander — who represents Park Slope and Carroll Gardens — who sponsored the bag fee bill.

“(Lander’s) elitist brain trust who came up with this idea must order Fresh Direct or eat out all the time, and have no idea what it is like to schlep bags of groceries,” Capano said. “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.

“Unless Albany acts, New Yorkers will be waiting on longer lines at retail stores and paying more at the registers,” Capano contended.

The objective of the bill is to encourage New Yorkers to be environmentally-friendly and opt for reusable bags rather than collecting disposable shopping bags that end up in the waste stream or as litter, but residents and elected officials throughout the borough have increasingly voiced their dismay.

Nonetheless, Lander was present at a rally outside City Hall on Sunday, January 15 with a group of protesters to discuss his position on the bag fee. “They don’t want to do anything about reducing plastic bag waste,” he said at the time.

The fee was initially slated to go into effect last October, but the City Council delayed the implementation because of the outcry.

On the Democratic side, Assemblymember William Colton along with District Leaders Nancy Tong and Charles Ragusa have also voiced their concern regarding the controversial fee, and have kicked off a petition drive that they hope will drive home local opposition to the fee.

“This five cent tax is hurtful for the residents, especially seniors and middle and low income working families who already have the burden of increasing rent and cost of living expenses,” said Colton, who previously proposed a bill banning plastic bags.  “We are demanding Mayor de Blasio to postpone this harmful ‘tax’ that will encourage supermarkets to make a profit.”

The three are currently circulating petitions demanding a moratorium on the fee to push implementation of the law to at least July 1, in hopes that less burdensome legislation could be passed that would accomplish the same goal.

“This tax is a burden that we should remove from all the residents of our neighborhood,” said Tong.

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