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Murphy signals intent to veto proposed plastic bag fee

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Posters brought by the New Jersey Sierra Club to the joint hearing between the Senate Environment and Assembly Environment and Solid Waste committees at Toms River Town Hall.
Posters brought by the New Jersey Sierra Club to the joint hearing between the Senate Environment and Assembly Environment and Solid Waste committees at Toms River Town Hall. - ()

Gov. Phil Murphy plans to veto a proposed 5-cent fee on plastic bags within the next few days, according to a source close to the governor.

Murphy has until Monday during the 1 p.m. Assembly quorum to veto the bill or it automatically becomes law.

Senate Environment Chair Bob Smith, D-17th District, said the Legislature will likely move ahead with a bill that calls for a ban on Styrofoam and plastic bags and straws.

With Murphy’s absolute veto of the plastic bag fee, he “will be very sympathetic to the ban on single-use plastic waste,” Smith said.

Smith added the Legislature will likely hold hearings in September and October on Assembly Bill 4330 and Senate Bill 2776, which would prohibit restaurants and stores from providing plastic bags and straws as well as Styrofoam.

His announcements came during testimony during a joint hearing between the Senate Environment and Assembly Environment and Solid Waste committees Thursday at Toms River Town Hall.

During the several hours of testimony, environmentalists and business groups urged implementation of a statewide ban on single-use plastics.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said a similar ban in Los Angeles County resulted in a “94 percent reduction” in the use of plastic bags.

“A ban works much better, you don’t have to worry about a hidden tax,” Tittel added.

Michael Egenton, executive vice president of government relations at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said there should be a statewide ban rather than individual towns enacting their own ordinances.

“We can’t have this hodgepodge maze of different municipalities having their own rules of engagement,” Egenton said, adding such a situation would make doing business in New Jersey much more difficult.

And Chrissy Buteas, chief government affairs officer at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said a ban could cost jobs.

“We all want to be mindful of the impact in the supply chain,” she said. “The plastics industry employees tens of thousands of people in the state.”

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz


Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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