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New York governor signs bill blocking plastic bag fees

[JURIST] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [Official website] signed a bill [text] Tuesday that prohibits New York City from imposing a fee on plastic bags. New York City (NYC) was one day away from enacting [NYT report] a 5 cent fee on the use of plastic bags. The bill signed by Cuomo requires that "no city with a population over 1 million or more shall impose any tax, fee or any other local charge on any carry out merchandise bag." Proponents of the NYC tax stated that it would have reduced the spread of plastic bags in the city and would reduce the pollution due to the creation of the plastic bags. Cuomo criticized the NYC fee because the 5 cents for every plastic bag would go to the merchants as profit. This would have resulted in an estimated $100 million of additional profits to these companies per year. Cuomo also stated that the fee would disproportionately affect poor consumers. Cuomo has promised to create a task force directed at the problem of plastic bags.

The environmental effects of the use of plastic bags has been a concern in many areas around the country. In November, voters in California passed a measure to uphold a ban on the use of plastic bags. The implementation of California's plastic bag ban [SB 270 text], which was set to go into effect in 2015, but was halted [JURIST report] in February 2015 by a successful referendum petition. The trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance (ACPA) [advocacy website] collected [LAT report] more than 800,000 signatures on their petition [petition form]. California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed [JURIST report] the bill in October 2014, making it the first law of its kind in the US. California Senator Alex Padilla [official website] introduced the bill in an effort to reduce the amount of litter caused in the state by plastic bags. Austin, Texas, banned [Earth Policy Institute report] plastic bags in 2013 and in January 2014, Los Angeles because the largest US city to ban the use of plastic bags.

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