NJ Politics Digest: Is Phil Murphy About to Ban Plastic Bags?

'Think about if you’re the governor that really fixed the problems here. You might wind up president.'

A woman carries so-called "single-use" shopping bags as she exits a shopping centre in Faches-Thumesnil, northern France, on June 27, 2014. A governmental amendment added to the biodiversity bill on June 25, aims for a total ban on single-use plastic bags.
Gov. Phil Murphy did not explain his reasons for the intended veto on the plastic bag tax. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

Gov. Phil Murphy has decided to veto a measure that would have placed a 5-cent tax on grocery store bags, causing some to speculate the governor might instead favor a ban on single-use plastic bags instead. Some environmentalists have been pushing for an outright ban, arguing the bag fee wouldn’t do enough to help alleviate plastic pollution.

The legislature had approved the measure to place a fee on plastic and paper grocery bags at the same time it was scrambling to pass a state budget. Many saw the fee, particularly since it covered both types of grocery bags, as more of a money grab than an effort to aid the environment. The fee was expected to raise more than $23 million annually, according to reports. While California has a ban on single-use grocery bags, no other state has instituted a bag fee, NJ.com reports.

Murphy did not explain his reasons for the intended veto.
The use of plastic, and plastic grocery bags has been coming under increased scrutiny, with more than a dozen municipalities passing their own local bans, The Record reports.

Sen. Bob Smith told the newspaper he hopes Murphy will now support his legislation to ban Styrofoam food containers and plastic straws in addition to plastic bags.

Quote of the Day: “Think about if you’re the governor that really fixed the problems here. You might wind up president,” – Senate President Steve Sweeney, trying to woo Gov. Phil Murphy to support his plan to remake New Jersey’s finances.

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