Bag the Bag Bill
December 2nd, 2008
The City Council is not happy about a plastic bag bill, which recently landed on Gov. David Paterson’s desk. The bill, said Council Speaker Christine Quinn at an impromptu press conference at City Hall this afternoon, would undermine legislation the council passed earlier this year.
The council’s law, which is now in effect, requires all stores more than 5,000 square feet to recycle plastic bags — formally reserved for the depths of the cabinets below the kitchen sink.
(For more on recycling, play Gotham Gazette’s The Garbage Glut)
The Albany bill, which is awaiting the governor’s John Hancock, would exempt stores under 10,000 square feet and also weaken the city’s enforcement powers, said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. — the city bill’s primary sponsor. The Albany bill would also exempt certain types of plastic bags.
The governor has until Dec. 11th to either veto or sign the state legislation. He cannot amend it, said city officials.
The speaker hopes the state can carve out an exemption for the city, so it can continue to enforce its “tougher” law. Quinn said Albany has granted amendments when New York City has pre-existing legislation.
City officials say they worked with a coalition of environmental groups and local businesses to ensure their bill was comprehensive and fair. Vallone said once the city passed its law, special interests, like supermarkets, went upstate to weaken the council’s efforts.
“You can have the real law in New York City and have the special interests run Albany,” said Vallone.
While urging the governor to exempt the city or veto the bill, Quinn also opined on the mayor’s proposal to tax plastic bags five cents in order to close a budget hole in 2010. She said it is something to consider, but for now they need to concentrate on keeping the city’s law in place.By Courtney Gross on December 2, 2008, 1:57 pm
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