Published: Sun, March 31, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Ban on plastic bags comes close to reality in a 3rd state

Ban on plastic bags comes close to reality in a 3rd state

New York State will soon become the second USA state to impose a ban on plastic bags, after a vote by state legislators this week, with a view not only toward cutting down on the long-lived materials, but also on the greenhouse gases used to manufacture them.

"For far too long plastic bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways and that's why I proposed a ban in this year's budget".

Lawmakers are facing a Monday deadline on a budget agreement.

New York's ban wouldn't take effect until next March.

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Though some lawmakers are not so sure, Cuomo has said that legalization can still happen this year despite falling short in the budget. Hawaii has an effective statewide ban, with all its counties imposing their own restrictions. The plan also calls for allowing local governments the option to impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 3 cents going to the state's Environmental Protection Fund and 2 cents kept by local governments. "While the best policy would be a ban on plastic bags coupled with a statewide fee on other disposable bags, this agreement represents a tremendous step forward". The goal, he said, is get people to move away from both paper and plastic and switch to reusable bags.

With lawmakers embarking on the second half of the state legislative session, which is scheduled to come to a close on June 19, perhaps the two biggest issues up for debate are rent regulations, which are set to expire, and legalizing recreational marijuana, which enjoyed widespread support but fell out of the budget. Lawmakers are planning to return to the Capitol for a rare Sunday session to begin voting on budget bills. Cuomo announced last month he wanted to reduce the number of facilities because of the state's declining inmate population.

In addition to eliminating cash bail for some charges, other criminal justice reforms include requiring prosecutors and defense lawyers to share all case information well in advance of trials, and speeding up the time it takes for a case to go to trial.

"Doing the right budget is more important than doing on time", said Cuomo. The billions the tolls are expected to raise will go toward fixing New York City's ailing mass transit system.

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