Published: Mon, April 01, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

NY passes Manhattan congestion charge and plastic bag ban

NY passes Manhattan congestion charge and plastic bag ban

The New York state budget is starting to take shape, as lawmakers planned to return to the Capitol for a rare Sunday session to begin voting to meet the April 1 deadline.

The budget agreement also establishes a state commission that will come up with a system for public financing of legislative and statewide offices, with up to $100 million in taxpayer funds authorized annually for such a system.

NY also will be one of the first states to impose a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets, starting next March.

Liz Moran, the environmental lobbyist for the New York Public Interest Research Group, says that's good news.

The legislation banning most plastic bags provided to customers at supermarkets and other retail businesses also allows counties to opt in on a 5-cent fee on paper bags.

Environmentalists have always been pushing for a ban on plastic bags for the environmental harm they cause, according to Riverkeepers.

Cuomo proposed the idea as part of his $175 billion budget plan for the fiscal year 2019-20.

"I think we're going to look back and wonder why this isn't something that was commonplace before now", state senator Todd Kaminsky told NBC television Thursday.

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"With this smart, multi-pronged action NY will be leading the way to protect our natural resources now and for future generations of New Yorkers", he added.

The budget will also include a new tax on prescription opioids. "We just have to dot the I's and cross the T's".

Some might decide to charge the fee to cut down on waste from those bags as well.

Local governments would keep 2 cents from the fee, while 3 cents would go to the New York Environmental Protection Fund.

One of the other big issues of the year - the legalization of recreational marijuana - will not be included in the budget. Cuomo and party leaders have said the issue is too complex to rush.

Lawmakers met behind closed doors at the Capitol Saturday to finalize agreements on various aspects of the budget. Cuomo said Friday that lawmakers need more time to work out the details to regulation.

Supporters say the ban would help protect the ecosystem.

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