You can have my plastic bag when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. Sorry NRA, yes I stole it. But not everyone owns a gun. Almost everyone still uses paper or plastic bags at grocery stores and drug stores. The legislature has a scheme being voted on this week. If it doesn’t pass this time around, it will be back.

The bill will mandate that all grocery stores, drug stores and retail stores drug in New Jersey larger than 2,000 square feet or are part of a chain charge customers a 5 cent fee for every plastic or paper bag they use. Between drug store trips and stocking up on groceries if you use 20 bags a week that’s $52 more dollars every year out of your pocket.

Here’s the lie. It’s not really a “fee.” It’s a tax. The definition of a fee is a payment made in return for a service. You really can’t revise history and decide a disposable receptacle we’ve always used to bring goods home is suddenly a service. And here’s the hypocrisy. They’re doing this in the name of the environment. But the government doesn’t actually want you to get those reusable canvas totes. Why? Because they are assuming nearly half a billion plastic or paper bags will still be preferred by consumers because they are already earmarking $23.4 million it will generate to go towards lead abatement. You don’t get that money through environmental compliance. You don't get that money by people giving up plastic and paper bags.

So what was always a means by which to simply get your goods home from market will now cost you money once this passes. If it doesn’t pass now you can bet it will soon. Welcome to NJ’s new tax.

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