Governor Cuomo: We Urge You to Amend Your Plastic Bag Ban Proposal

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New York environmental organizations and advocates recently sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to amend the plastic bag ban proposed in his executive budget.

“To be clear, the amendments requested in this letter still don’t make this proposal optiminal,“ said Jennie Romer, Esq., attorney and founder of “A statewide bag law should always include a mandatory fee on all available carryout bags. Senator Kaminsky’ SB 95 is a good example of that. However, these suggested amendments would significantly improve Governor Cuomo’s plastic bag ban proposal.”

The details of the requested amendments:

First, amend part H of the TED to include enabling legislation to allow local governments, in a manner consistent with the New York State Constitution, to dedicate a local fee levied on alternative carry-out bags to local purposes. We believe such a change will provide the incentive necessary for local governments to act to reduce the negative externalities associated with an increase in single-use paper bags. The current proposal already allows local governments to levy fees on paper; this change would allow local governments to split the fee with retail establishments if they chose that approach.

Secondly, change the language in the executive proposal to allow local governments to mandate fees on all alternative carry-out bags (e.g., inexpensive bags marketed as reusable or compostable). This change will prevent potential loopholes and ensure that communities that already have local laws covering alternative carry-out bags can continue without interference.

Lastly, remove the preemption clause that would prevent other jurisdictions from adopting bag fees or bans that go beyond the current proposal and revise the bill language as necessary to ensure that it does not upend existing and effective bag fee statutes in jurisdictions like Suffolk County and the City of Long Beach. We believe that local governments should be empowered to go further to protect the environment from single-use plastic bags than currently proposed.

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Jennie Romer