Monday marked 45 days since the state Legislature sent Gov. Phil Murphy a bill that would impose a 5-cent fee on plastic bags, but he has yet to take any action or comment on the bill.
The state constitution generally mandates that the governor signs or vetoes a bill within 45 days of the Legislature’s approval, otherwise it automatically becomes a law.
But because the Assembly, which was the first to approve the bill, is not scheduled to meet or hold a quorum through the end of August, Murphy is effectively given an extension on when he has to make a move, according to the constitution.
Specifically, if the 45th day falls during a Legislative recess, then Murphy doesn’t have to sign or veto the bill until the Assembly meets again.
Jeff Tittel, who heads environmental advocacy group New Jersey Sierra Club, said the Assembly and Senate will hold a joint committee session on plastics, including straws, bags and Styrofoam, on Aug. 23.
If the Assembly was scheduled to meet on noon that day, that would be Murphy’s deadline to act. The governor’s office declined to comment, citing a policy to not discuss pending legislation.
The bill’s crafters projected $23 million in revenue from the fee, which would go toward a lead abatement fund in the Department of Environmental Protection.
Tittel said the New Jersey Sierra Club is pushing for a statewide ban on plastic bags, and that he hopes Murphy will veto A3267.
Since June, there have been over a dozen towns and counties in the process enacting single-use fees or outright banning plastic bags, the most recent being Atlantic County, which is scheduled to ban plastic bags in all its parks effective Aug. 13.