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State Lawmakers Hold Hearing On NYC's 5-Cent Plastic Bag Fee

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- State lawmakers held a hearing Friday to examine whether New York City's plan to impose a fee on plastic bags will be a burden on consumers.

City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia faced a barrage of criticism from the panel, including State Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn, who said the 5-cent bag fee amounts to taxation without representation.

"We care about the environment, but the point is the people count as well and we have to listen to them and this creates an incredible hardship for a lot of people out there," he said.

The fee, which is for single-use plastic bags, is expected to go into effect this fall. Stores will get to keep the fees they collect, not the city.

The law covers bags given out by grocery stores, drugstores and other retailers, but is exempt from take-out and medications at pharmacies.

Lawmakers asked Garcia why some stores will be charging the fee while others won't, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

"What makes bags at a grocery store or a supermarket more offensive to the environment than bags at a liquor store, I just don't understand," Sen. Diane Savino said.

Some state lawmakers are supportive of a proposal to prohibit local governments from imposing bag fees, a move Garcia called unfortunate.

"New York City is trying to do a lot of things that are different and new around waste and I think it is important for us to shape our own destiny on this because we pay for it," she said.

The commissioner also said other cities with bag fees have seen great success.

"We really want to change people's behavior," she said.

City leaders approved the measure as part of an effort to reduce waste and litter. Opponents complain that the fee will amount to a new burden on a heavily taxed population.

The law would take effect in October, but enforcement wouldn't begin until next April.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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