The New York state Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday evening to block New York City from implementing a 5-cent fee on shopping bags until the end of 2017, pushing the issue past the municipal election in November.
The 43 to 16 vote comes days after the Republican-led Senate arrived at a deal with the Democratic Assembly to push it off for another year. The Assembly is expected to follow suit on Tuesday, also by a wide margin. It then heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
This is the second time the Senate voted on this issue, which had been set to go into effect next Wednesday. The original bill, however, flatly bars the city from imposing a bag tax — technically a fee since the money goes to the storeowner instead of the government. The new bill puts a moratorium until the end of 2017.
“It carries it past the election and allows a new council to come in,” Sen. Simcha Felder, the lead sponsor who has battled the proposed bag fee since his days as a city councilman in 2005, told Hamodia shortly after the bill passed. “Hopefully, the issue of the bag tax will be something that will confront people on the election but it won’t be something that they had no control over.”
The bag fee, touted by its supporters as a way to get rid of the bags floating on waters or stuck in trees, passed the council on an unusually tight 28 to 20 vote. Its prime sponsor, Brad Lander of Brooklyn, as well as Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, are term-limited and will not be in the council next year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is a strong supporter of the bill, also faces voters later this year.