Statement on plastic bag fee

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.

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