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Albany moves closer to banning plastic bags in budget

State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are close to an agreement that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide and potentially impose a fee on paper bags.

“Cracking down on the environmental blight caused by plastic bags has long been a priority for the Governor and was one of the first budget proposals he unveiled this year,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo. “We’re encouraged by the emerging consensus on this issue and will continue to work with the Legislature to finalize a budget that works for all New Yorkers.”

It’s not yet clear how much the fee on paper bags would cost, but lawmakers have proposed surcharges ranging from 5 cents to 10 cents.

“Those are part of the details we’re working out,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky at a press conference on Tuesday. “We know we want plastic and paper to be addressed. We know we like the ban-fee combo, but that’s what we’re working out.”

There may be some carve outs applied for low-income shoppers and opt outs for local governments on the paper bag fee. Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said she wanted the fee to apply across the board.

“I very much want to keep this consistent throughout the state, but I do think the part allowing counties and cities opting in and opting out is going to cause confusion,” she said. “The bottom line is we all need to move toward re-usable bags.”

Fahy wants the money generated by the fee to go toward recycling as well as back to businesses.

The bag ban is coming after lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to overturning the New York City Council’s law imposing a fee on plastic bags. Cuomo convened a task force to study the issue statewide.

The bag ban is being discussed as part of a broader deal on the state budget due on Sunday.

“I’m optimistic that we’re in a good place addressing both, but we’ve got to get the details locked down,” Kaminsky said.

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