Statement on proposed legislation from Ocean County's 10th District Legislators Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin:
10th District Legislators, Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin are signing on as sponsors of Senator Brian Stack’s (D-33) bill S-675 “Plastic and Paper Bag Reduction Act.” This legislation would require certain retailers to provide recyclable, compostable or reusable bags instead of plastic or paper carryout bags.
Each year, billions of plastic bags are used in the United States and only a fraction of these bags are returned to the store for proper recycling. These single-use plastic bags are a major concern of pollution in New Jersey, littering highway medians and waterway shorelines.
“I applaud Senator Stack’s bill which would impose a $0.10 fee for every carryout bag distributed beginning January 1, 2013,” said Senator Holzapfel. “This fee would encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags when they visit a grocery or convenience store and eliminate our dependence on single-use plastic bags.”
According to the bill, the operator of every convenience store, drugstore, supermarket or retail establishment that provides plastic or paper carry out bags would be required to charge a $0.10 fee for every carryout bag. The fees collected would be used by the Department of Environmental Protection to defray the implementation and enforcement costs of the bill.
“The pollution generated from plastic bags is growing at an alarming rate and education and recycling programs have only gone so far. We need to take immediate action to ensure that consumers have an option when going to the grocery store and encourage them to start making a change now,” continued Assemblyman Wolfe.
Senator Stack’s bill also requires the operator of the store to report quarterly to the DEP on the volume of plastic and paper carryout bags purchased and the total fees collected from the distribution of carry out bags. A further proposal beginning in January 1, 2015 would require store operators to provide only compostable plastic bags or recyclable paper bags to its customers and would prohibit them from providing any non-compostable or non-recyclable bags to customers.
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. This is an environmental issue that needs to be addressed now. Jim, Dave and I will be writing to our Republican caucuses urging our fellow legislators to sign on and get this important bill passed in Trenton,” added Assemblyman McGuckin.
The shore legislators have also introduced multiple pieces of legislation in an effort to restore the Barnegat Bay. In recent years, the waters of the Barnegat Bay have been severely impacted from pollution causing the ecosystems of the bay to diminish. Restoring the Barnegat Bay is a major concern for the legislators and these bills are to help protect, preserve and remediate the Barnegat Bay estuary and its watershed.
The first bill, S-1250/A-407, is known as the “The Barnegat Bay Protection Act,” which establishes the Barnegat Bay Protection Fund, dedicates a portion of the sales tax on fertilizer, authorizes special license plates, and provides opportunities for donations to the fund. The legislators have also sponsored S-221/A-393 which prohibits the use of urea for melting and removing ice. Urea is a commonly used nitrogen-producing substance found in fertilizers and other products for the removal of ice on sidewalks, driveways and roadways. The bill targets the problems caused by excess nitrogen from urea which can cause a chemical imbalance and endanger the ecosystem through water runoff and storm drain systems.
The final bill introduced by the legislators is S-218/A-406, which gives tax credits to residents who live within 1,000 feet of Barnegat Bay and its tributaries who replace grass lawns with stone, crushed shells or other similar materials. Property owners who either replace their lawns or already have lawns with existing stone or crushed shell lawns would be eligible for a recurring annual tax credit of $250 against the State income tax.