The proposed statewide ban was introduced by two New York State Democratic lawmakers Tuesday with a goal of encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. In 2016, County Executive Poloncarz proposed a study to ban plastic bags in Erie County. That study would have cost taxpayers between $50,000 and $70,000 and take nearly ten months to complete. It did not receive support from the Legislature. This Erie County Legislature resolution opposes any state ban. It is sponsored by Legislators Joe Lorigo, Lynne Dixon, Ed Rath, John Mills and Kevin Hardwick. The resolution was sent to committee for further discussion.
The resolution’s sponsors believe a ban on plastic bags would impose unnecessary financial stress on consumers as well as retailers, who would be forced to charge a 10 to 25 cent fee for paper bags per the state proposal. The ban would specifically be a burden to residents in Erie County, whose largest city has a 33% poverty rate.
“There are far more pressing issues facing our government than deciding what type of bag someone uses at the store,” said Minority Leader Joe Lorigo. “This is another example of downstate lawmakers overreaching their authority to further inconvenience New York State taxpayers. Instead of looking for solutions to problems that don’t really exist, they should focus their efforts on the actual problem killing New York State—unfunded mandates.”
The resolution also points toward public health concerns, as keeping fresh produce and uncooked meats in reusable bags increases the risk of food poisoning and other contamination if the bags are not properly cleaned after each use.
“Recycling initiatives have made great progress over the past 25 years and I think our efforts should be focused on continuing that,” said Legislator John Mills. “I don’t believe the benefits associated with a plastic bag ban outweigh the financial strain it would place on the many hard-working business owners and residents in our community.”
The full resolution can be viewed here.