Bag Tax Bill Gets Final Legislative Approval
Lawmakers sent legislation to Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday that would impose a 5-cent fee on single-use shopping bags to raise funds for environmental projects and encourage consumers to bring reusable bags to the store.
The bill, A-3267, is part of a legislative package to raise funds for the budget and is being fast-tracked through the Legislature.
Some environmental groups oppose the bill, arguing in favor of an outright ban on single-use carryout bags.
The bill would establish a fee on the use of single-use carryout bags provided by certain types of stores and dedicate revenue from the fee to the “Health Schools and Community Lead Abatement Fund” established in the bill.
Customers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), or the Work First New Jersey program would be exempt.
Drug stores, supermarkets, and any retail establishment with over 2,000 square feet of retail space or part of a chain would be covered.
Each store operator also would be required to indicate the total number of single-use carryout bags provided to a customer and the total fee charged for the bags on the sales or other receipt given to the customer.
Store operators would retain $0.01 of the fee collected, and pay the remaining $0.04 to the Division of Taxation. The director could use up to 1 percent of the revenues collected to defray the cost of administration of the bill. The bill also would require the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a public information program which addresses the harmful environmental effects caused by single-use carryout bags, and encourages consumers to use reusable carryout bags for retail shopping.
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Legislature Approves New Fees for Stormwater Utilities
The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would allow local governments to set up stormwater utilities and charge users fees to pay for them. The bill, S-1073, is aimed at addressing non-point source pollution that comes from stormwater runoff.
NJBIA opposes the bill because it would be another cost increase on doing business in New Jersey.
“New Jersey is the most taxed state in the nation and our companies and residents are challenged by affordability and the overall cost of living here,” NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas said. “For many businesses, the fees authorized in this bill would amount to double taxation, as many facilities already are required to obtain stormwater permits for their operations.”
“NJBIA understands the laudable goal of the sponsor to address non-point source pollution, flooding and infrastructure needs,” said Buteas. “However, we believe a comprehensive plan for our water infrastructure that also mitigates the impact on ratepayers should instead be considered versus a new tax on ratepayers.”
How much the user fees will cost is difficult to predict. The bill requires that they be calculated based on guidance from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, but such guidance would not be issued until after the bill is signed into law.
We will continue to keep you updated on matters as they progress. If you have any questions, please contact me at CButeas@njbia.org .