NJ bag tax hinges on only vote left that counts
Leave it to the legislators to come up with a law that pleases no one.
The gimmick of slapping a 5 cent tax on every paper and plastic shopping bag you use seems to have everyone angry. Those who realize we've been taxed to the point of exodus don't want to see money added on to their bill over something that has always been practical and free. While environmentalists are miffed because the bill doesn't outright ban plastic bags.
The vote in the Assembly passed 41 - 32 in favor of this new, regressive tax. The Senate passed it 23 - 16. How did your particular legislator vote? See for yourself here in this breakdown by Adam Hochron.
Now it comes down to just one vote, and that vote will be done with a pen. Governor Murphy either signs it into law, vetoes it, or worst of all worlds sends it back for revisions to pass an even stricter version. That stricter version would likely involve several years of this tax, followed by an outright ban on plastic bags and an even higher tax on paper bags. The bill's original sponsor, Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle, says she would be on board with that.
If you want to be forced into paying even more in a state that doesn't know when to stop treating us like an ATM, do nothing. If you want to force people who don't have any interest in constantly hauling around those oversize reusable tote bags even for quick trips to a Wawa or CVS, do nothing.
But if you want to take a shot at putting a stop to yet another New Jersey tax, one that will disproportionately impact the poorest among us, then please call the governor's office and leave word that you do NOT want him to sign the bag tax. The governor's office phone number is 609-292-6000. If a live person answers, tell them you are a registered voter and you do NOT support the bag tax and don't want Murphy to support it either. If it goes to voicemail, leave one stating the same. It's the only shot we have. I've already done it.
As far as the environmental impact of plastic bags, it's actually the subject of much debate. You'll hear things like there's this mass of plastic bags and garbage in the ocean twice the size of the state of Texas fouling our water and killing sea creatures. Those claims are hugely overblown. This following is from a 2011 study from Oregon State University:
There is a lot of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean, but claims that the “Great Garbage Patch” between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas are grossly exaggerated, according to an analysis by an Oregon State University scientist.
Further claims that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, pointed out Angelicque “Angel” White, an assistant professor of oceanography at Oregon State.
“There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists,” White said. “We have data that allow us to make reasonable estimates; we don’t need the hyperbole. Given the observed concentration of plastic in the North Pacific, it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton, or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic.”
The studies have shown is that if you look at the actual area of the plastic itself, rather than the entire North Pacific subtropical gyre, the hypothetically “cohesive” plastic patch is actually less than 1 percent of the geographic size of Texas.
“The amount of plastic out there isn’t trivial,” White said. “But using the highest concentrations ever reported by scientists produces a patch that is a small fraction of the state of Texas, not twice the size.”
You need to get goods home from market. The environmentalists will smugly tell you you're part of the problem if you're not carrying around those reusable bags. Here's the issue. Many studies have shown just how filthy they are. Cross contamination is a big problem. Loma Linda University and University of Arizona researchers studied this issue. 97% or shoppers report rarely if ever washing the bags. 75% report not using separate bags for meats and for produce, and about a third say they used the bags not only for food shopping but also for toting books and other items at different times.
The result? Researchers tested 84 bags and 83 out of 84 had whopping amounts of bacteria. Coliform bacteria in 50% of the bags. E. coli in 12% of the bags. So environmentalist types think they're being so brilliant in demanding we all be forced to do what they do when what they do is extremely unhealthy and dangerous.
The bag tax is misguided. The logistics of implementing such a bag tax when so much of retailing is now done through U-scan kiosks further complicates things. Call your governor. Tell him he and his cronies need to be working on real problems like property taxes. Bag the bag tax.
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