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Gov. Andrew Cuomo Proposes Plastic Bag Ban After Killing New York City's Bag Law

The Democratic governor proposed a ban on single-use plastic bags in his state-of-the-state address on Jan. 15. Nearly two years earlier, he signed a bill that prevented New York City from charging for bags as the District of Columbia and Boston do.
January 23, 2019, 2pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Governor Andrew Cuomo
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"Among Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goals in the coming year is for the Democrats who now control the State Legislature to ban single-use plastic bags," reports Azi Paybarah on Jan. 22. Bans and/or fees on single-use plastic bags exist in hundreds of cities across the nation, such as Boston where it took effect last month, but statewide bans and/or fees exist in only two states and the District of Columbia.

However, it must be noted that more states ban local governments from enacting plastic bag reduction ordinances than those that have adopted them.

Following in the footsteps of Arizona and Missouri in 2015 and Idaho in 2016, Michigan passed legislation in 2016, signed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, to preempt cities or counties from regulating single-use plastic bags or other disposable containers. The law was precipitated by an ordinance passed by Washtenaw County (county seat is Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan) to charge a 10-cent bag fee. 

Similarly, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation on Feb. 14, 2017, "effectively killing a law that would have imposed a 5-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City, disappointing environmentalists as well as city leaders who characterized the move as a classic case of Albany’s overreach," reported Jesse McKinley for the Times. Cuomo objected to the fee being kept by the merchants, yet that's what's done with the nickel fee in D.C. and Boston, and the 10-cent fee in California.

The current proposal, described in the governor's Jan. 13 announcement, includes an expansion of the beverage container recycling known as the Bottle Bill. Times reporter Michael Gold of the Times reports more extensively on the proposal and background on the issue, including current state legislation to "establish guidelines for carryout bag waste reduction."

[Also see Gold's related article via Planetizen: New York City Polystyrene Ban Took Effect New Year's Day, January 4, 2019: Thanks to two recent New York State court rulings, disposable food and beverage containers will no longer be made from polystyrene in the nation's largest city.]

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Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in The New York Times
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