Thank you to everyone who called my office about the proposed plastic bag fee. While I have a longstanding commitment to making our city cleaner and more sustainable for future generations, I voted AGAINST this bill after months of careful consideration and listening to my constituents. Nonetheless, it passed 28-20 and is expected to be signed by the mayor. Here is what we need to know:
Starting Oct. 1, stores will be required to charge five cents for most plastic and paper bags.
The fee is waived for shoppers using food stamps.
Produce, meat, bulk food and pharmacy counter bags are exempt.
Restaurants are exempt. Street vendors that act like retail and grocery stores would have to charge a fee, but those selling prepared foods like restaurants would be exempt from the law.
If you would like a free canvas bag, let send me a note on Facebook or Twitter, and I will work to connect you with one.
Below is my full statement on the bill:
As a second generation Staten Islander, I grew up knowing all too well the damage that landfill can do to the environment, and I have a consistent record of voting for bills to make our city more sustainable for future generations. However, after reading this bill closely and considering it for weeks now, I don't believe it is right for Staten Islanders at this time -- and the overwhelming response from my constituents supports that. Too many individuals and small-business owners see this minimum 5-cent fee as a burden on working families. In the meantime, I remain committed to promoting more sustainable practices, including the use of reusable bags -- which I will make available through my district office -- to keep our city green for future generations.