Plastic bag bill still important, Mulé says


County Legislator Debra Mulé, a Democrat from Freeport, said she’s not giving up on a proposed bill that would impose a 5 cent fee for each bag given out at supermarkets and shops. “It’s important for Nassau to get ahead of the program and do what so many places here on Long Island have done,” Mulé said. “They’ve already taken this imitative and done the right thing.”

The proposed law would not impose fees on bags used to wrap meat, newspapers or dry-cleaning, and people using the state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the state Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children would also be exempt.

Suffolk County imposed a similar law in early 2018 and the city of Long Beach did so in 2016. The bill is aimed at reducing pollution and has the support of Freeport-based Operation S.P.L.A.S.H. (Stop Polluting Littering and Save Harbors) and Baldwin-based Sanitary District No. 2. Both groups in July hosted a canal cleanup event, where dozens of plastic bags were pulled out of Baldwin Bay.

Mulé’s proposal, which has the support of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, received additional backing when members of a Girl Scout troop from Port Washington appeared in front of the Nassau County Legislature and asked lawmakers to take up a vote on the legislation. The girls spoke on the issue for their Gold Award project, Mulé said.

But it does not appear such a vote will happen any time soon. Richard Nicolello, the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, is opposed to the bill and will not bring it to the floor.

Plastic bags, though, may be banned throughout the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year proposed legislation that would prohibit the all single-use plastic bags in New York. The then-Republican controlled state Senate did not take it up for a vote. Cuomo’s press office did not respond to an email asking if he would reintroduce it next legislative session, when Democrats will have control of the Senate.

“With the new makeup of the Senate, it could have a better chance of passing,” Mulé said. Should a statewide ban be passed, Mulé’s bill would not be necessary.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach who was recently named chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, said he hopes the matter will be discussed when lawmakers return to Albany. “Plastic and paper bags are helping to destroy our environment and something must be done,” he said in an email.