New York City’s plan to charge a nickel fee on disposable shopping bags will likely be put on hold after state lawmakers on Tuesday approved a measure to delay the surcharge.
The Democratic-majority state Assembly voted to delay the city’s implementation of the bag fee on Tuesday, joining the Republican-led State Senate who voted Monday in favor of enacting a yearlong moratorium on the charge that was set to go into effect on Feb. 15.
The measure will now go before Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign or veto. A spokesman for Cuomo’s office said the bill “will be reviewed.”
Environmental groups and city officials denounced the State Legislature’s decision saying it would lead to another year of bags contributing to waste and pollution, but state lawmakers argued more time was needed to study the financial impact of the fee on low income residents.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), in a statement, said while lawmakers “share the same goal of reducing plastic waste and improving” the environment, it “makes sense to press the pause button on this fee to do a more thorough investigation on the best ways to reduce paper and plastic waste in our environment.”
“As drafted, there were a number of issues with the local law that made state action necessary,” Heastie said. “First, it has the potential to negatively impact working-poor households and senior citizens disproportionately.”
New York City Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat who sponsored the city measure to implement the fee, called on supporters to contact Cuomo.
“At this critical moment, with the federal government rolling back environmental protections, we hope that Governor Cuomo will help keep New York in the lead,” of environmental policy, Lander said in a statement.