NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A9904
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the general city law, in relation to prohibiting the
imposition of any tax, fee or local charge on carry out merchandise bags
This bill seeks to prohibit the imposition and/or collection of any tax,
fee or local charge on carry out merchandise bags.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section one of the bill would amend the general city law to add a new
section 13-D to prohibit the imposition and/or collection of any tax,
fee or local charge on carry out merchandise bags.
More specifically, subdivision one of this bill would provide a defi-
nition of carry out merchandise bag and retail store, while subdivision
two would establish a prohibition on any city, including a city of one
million or more, from imposing any tax, fee or local charge on any carry
out merchandise bag, and subdivision three would establish a corollary
prohibition on any city, including a city of one million or more, from
collecting any tax, fee or local charge on any carry out merchandise
Carry out merchandise bags are any plastic, paper or other bag or carry-
ing container, provided by a retail store, to a customer of that store,
for the purpose of carrying and/or transporting merchandise lawfully
obtained at such store. They further include any plastic carryout bag as
defined by subdivision four of section 27-2701 of the environmental
conservation law. In brief, they are most often disposable bags provided
to customers by a grocery or other retail store for the purposes of
carrying or transporting their food items or other merchandise from the
store to the customer's home.
For decades, grocery stores and retailers have provided customers with
disposable carry out bags to transport their merchandise. For many
years, such disposable bags were predominantly made of paper, but in an
effort to accommodate advocates in the environmental movement and
promote environmental protection, so as to save trees and switch to a
more eco-friendly recyclable material, most grocery stores and retail
establishments have switched to plastic bags and containers. These
disposable bags are easily recyclable, safe, convenient and healthy, and
have become the standard in the retail marketplace.
Despite the fact that there are many recycling programs for carryout
plastic bags, both in practice and in law, there has now developed a
movement in the environmental community to abandon its previous advocacy
for disposable plastic bags and advance the promotion of permanent,
customer owned shopping bags. As consumers clearly prefer the disposable
bags presently provided by grocery stores and other retail establish-
ments, those who favor the permanent, customer owned shopping bags, now
seek to force consumers to modify their behavior, by means of the impo-
sition of a tax or fee on every disposable carry out merchandise bag
provided by a retailer.
Although well intentioned, this bag tax or fee idea, is actually harmful
to consumers, families, retailers and public health. It is not only
impracticable to believe that every consumer can provide their own carry
out bag or container, but imposing a tax or fee on every bag provided by
the retailer, would significantly increase the cost of groceries and
every retail item sold in any city that imposes such a tax or fee. Fami-
lies who are already facing a high cost of living, would be seriously
and negatively impacted by this misguided and unnecessary tax or fee.
Worse still, if customers do begin to provide their own carry out bags,
as those who support this tax or fee intend, such reusable bags will
undoubtedly present a serious public health issue. For such reusable
bags often present the risk of bringing into the store a contaminate of
food based disease, bacteria or other illness, which can cause serious
cross contamination or infection for both the customer, or other custom-
ers, or store employees. Issues such as salmonella, or other bacteria or
viruses, which escape from food previously carried in the reusable bag,
or which are being spread from the exposure to customer's own home envi-
ronment, can be easily spread from exposure to the reusable bag.
To bring such source of contaminates or disease back into the store is
both ill advised and dangerous. Accordingly, unless the reusable bag has
been completely cleaned and disinfected, which is a practice few consum-
ers with such reusable bags follow, this practice is one that could well
cause serious harm and disease to all the people exposed to the bag.
There is a reason why health care facilities, restaurants, hotels and
other entities that provide food and exposure to the public use dispos-
able and sterilized items. There is a reason why grocery and retail
stores have been using disposable bags for generations. To do otherwise
is simply irresponsible, and non disposable bags illustrate this avoid-
able and ill advised risk.
As a result, it can be seen that this misguided tax or fee desperately
needs to be prohibited from being imposed by any city.
This is a new bill.
This act would take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
April 26, 2016
Introduced by M. of A. CUSICK, WEPRIN -- read once and referred to the
Committee on Cities
AN ACT to amend the general city law, in relation to prohibiting the
imposition of any tax, fee or local charge on carry out merchandise
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The general city law is amended by adding a new section
2 13-d to read as follows:
3 § 13-d. Prohibition on the imposition of any tax, fee or local charge
4 on carry out merchandise bags. 1. Definitions. For purposes of this
5 section the following terms shall have the following meanings:
6 a. "Carry out merchandise bag" shall mean any plastic, paper or other
7 bag or carrying container, provided by a retail store, to a customer of
8 that store, for the purpose of carrying and/or transporting merchandise
9 lawfully obtained at such store. A carryout merchandise bag shall
10 include any plastic carryout bag as defined by subdivision four of
11 section 27-2701 of the environmental conservation law, as added by chap-
12 ter six hundred forty-one of the laws of two thousand eight.
13 b. "Retail store" shall mean any business establishment, including,
14 but not limited to, a grocery store, convenience store, dairy products
15 store, produce market, department store, general merchandise store,
16 clothing store, hardware store, pharmacy, drug store, hotel, restaurant,
17 soda fountain, gasoline station, or any other similar mercantile estab-
18 lishment offering goods and/or services at retail to individual consum-
19 ers, and/or any other establishment which in the regular course of busi-
20 ness sells or rents goods or services directly to the public.
21 2. Prohibition on the imposition of a tax, fee or local charge on any
22 carry out merchandise bag. No city, including any city with a population
23 of one million or more, shall impose any tax, fee or any other local
24 charge on any carry out merchandise bag as defined in paragraph a of
25 subdivision one of this section. This prohibition shall apply to all
26 cities, including any city with a population of one million or more,
27 regardless of whether such tax, fee or other local charge is attempted
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 9904 2
1 to be assessed or charged by the city indirectly against the wholesaler
2 providing any carry out merchandise bag to the retail store, or indi-
3 rectly against the retail store providing any carry out merchandise bag
4 to the customer, or directly against the customer receiving the carry
5 out merchandise bag from the retail store.
6 3. Prohibition on the collection of a tax, fee or local charge on any
7 carry out merchandise bag. No wholesaler may collect any additional
8 charge, tax or any other fee upon a retail store for the provision of
9 any carry out merchandise bag, other than the original cost of such bag
10 as agreed between the wholesaler and the retail store for the purchase
11 of such bag. Additionally, no retail store may collect any charge, tax
12 or any other fee upon a customer in return for the provision of any
13 carry out merchandise bag.
14 § 2. The act shall take effect immediately.