NY Senate Panel to Hold Hearings on NYC Bag Tax

NEW YORK -

A state Senate panel will hold hearings Friday into New York City’s recent passage of a five-cent shopping bag fee — which some lawmakers have denounced as an unconstitutional tax.

The Cities Committee, chaired by Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, will examine the issue of taxes and fees on carry-out merchandise bags at the Senate Hearing Room in Manhattan.

The city council last week passed the bag fee into law and Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will sign it. It will take effect in October.

However, in a boisterous press conference in Sunset Park Monday, several lawmakers slammed the fee as a tax, something only the state can levy. Supporters of the proposal disagreed, since they say that store owners can keep the money.

A lineup of lawmakers, storeowners, religious leaders and administration officials are scheduled to testify. Among them are supporters such as the city’s sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, and bill sponsor Councilman Brad Lander, along with critics of the bill, including Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

A bill currently in both of Albany’s chambers would ban New York City from imposing the fee.