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Lamont delays plastic bag tax until June 30

**UPDATE: Gov. Lamont issued an executive order at approximately 8:30 p.m. on May 13 extending the suspension of the plastic bag tax until June 30. Executive Order 7NN can be viewed here. Yankee’s original article pointing out the tax would begin again on May 15 was published at noon on May 13 and we have now updated our reporting.**

Connecticut shoppers were scheduled to begin paying the 10-cent plastic bag tax again on Friday as Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order suspending the tax was set to expire.

However, a new executive order released at 8:30 p.m. on May 13 continued the suspension of the plastic bag tax until June 30.

The 10-cent charge on plastic bags was signed into law as part of the 2019 budget package and will expire on July 1, 2021 when single-use plastic bags will be banned entirely in Connecticut.

Lamont’s original executive order issued on March 26 temporarily suspended the tax in response to the COVID-19 pandemic until May 15 and said grocery stores could not require employees to bag groceries in reusable bags.

The executive order was issued as a safety precaution to protect grocery store workers from the potential spread of the virus through reusable canvass and plastic bags. Similar measures were taken in states such as Massachusetts, New York and Maine to encourage shoppers to leave reusable bags at home.

Studies have shown that viruses and bacteria are transmittable through reusable bags. 

From Executive Order 7N

According to a press release from the Department of Revenue Services regarding suspension of the tax, the Lamont administration was responding to the “concerns of our retail employees who are enabling continued operation of critical services,” and encouraged shoppers using reusable bags to bag their own groceries.

Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, says that his organization has been in contact with the Lamont administration and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, asking them to extend the order.

“Given the intense challenges COVID-19 has had on business operations, we are requesting that the May 15th deadline for ‘no fee’ on single use bags be pushed back until phase 3 of the states reopening plan,” Pesce wrote in an email. “This extension provides retail businesses the ability to continue providing plastic bags to customers at no charge.”

Pesce outlined a number of considerations for the governor to take into account, including the “unusually high number of customers requesting plastic or single-use bags,” general consumer anxiety about using reusable bags and the fact that many Connecticut residents are currently cash-strapped or unemployed.

“There needs to be a dedicated messaging campaign reestablishing public sentiment for reusable bags to restore pre-pandemic success of current law,” Pesce wrote.

Pesce added that the CFA worked with the Lamont administration on the plastic bag tax and is not asking that it be repealed, just delayed further in response to the pandemic.

Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, who serves as ranking member on the Public Health Committee also sent a letter to Lamont on May 13, asking the suspension of the tax remain in place longer.

“While I wholeheartedly support measures to stop the proliferation of plastic bags in our environment, I cannot support state efforts to put essential workers under any more risk, or stress from real or perceived risk, than they are already exposed to due to the virus,” Somers wrote in the letter.

“It stands to reason that as long as we are wearing masks in public and under heightened hand washing and social distancing protocols, we should neither be charging for plastic bags nor banning plastic bags for use when making purchases at stores,” Somers wrote.

Major grocery stores, which were allowed to remain open during the pandemic, have implemented a number of precautionary measures, including wiping down checkout stations after every customer, wiping down shopping carts, encouraging or requiring customers to wear masks, limiting the number of shoppers in the store at any given time and enforcing social distancing in checkout lines. 

Grocery stores like Stop & Shop and labor unions representing grocery store workers have called for grocery store employees to be classified as “extended first responders,” to give them better access to personal protection equipment during the pandemic. 

Although the tax was originally supposed to bring in $28 million to state coffers, shoppers switched to reusable bags and several grocery chains did away with providing them altogether, resulting in only $7 million coming to the state.

The plastic bag tax passed as part of the 2019 budget agreement implements the 10-cent fee for two years before banning the use of single-use plastic grocery bags in Connecticut on July1, 2021.

**This article was updated to include portions of Sen. Heather Somers’ letter to Gov. Lamont**

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(14) Comments

  1. Steven

    May 15, 2020 5:07 am

    I will bring the dirtiest reusable shopping bags I can find to the grocery store; I have bags that would make GG Allin sick.

  2. Janet Mariano

    May 14, 2020 5:12 pm

    Are you kidding me Mr Lamont, you are truly a dumb ass. So now all those dirty reused bags are going to be ok to bring back into the stores, even though you still haven’t opened up our state because of the dreaded Corvid! So now according to our bright Governor you can bring in your contaminated bags or people will be forced to pay a ridiculous bag tax!!!!The bags should be free if your shopping in the store, but no you would prefer that people struggle to carry their items out of the store, refusing to pay your silly bag tax. Still not sure how you won over Stefanowski I think we need a recount!!!

  3. Sue Ellen Perry

    May 14, 2020 9:48 am

    Give me a break. I love the plastic bags! It was so crazy to see people leaving stores with there groceries loose in their hands. Keep the plastic bag! Please!

  4. Lisa

    May 14, 2020 9:30 am

    So now y’all are saying us essential workers can use the customers provided bags that does not care Covid 19 ???? That it’s safe to handle? I’ve been healthy all through this pandemic and if I come down with Covid 19 because the state isn’t getting there .10 bag tax channel 8 will know it! Thanx for keeping us essential workers safe!

  5. Pam

    May 13, 2020 10:02 pm

    Ok so now that most stores dont allow the use if reusable bahs due to covid now lamont wants to bring back the tax on the plastic ones. No offence kind of messed up. By the way if Lamont was that CONCERNED about the environment he would have BANNED plastic bags instead of charging for them. Kind of messed up now with the covid you cant use your reusable bags so your forced to pay 10 cents. Another GREAT job Lamont.

    • Marie

      May 14, 2020 9:45 am

      He has no clue what he’s talking about! This man continues to tax CT residents to the extreme.

  6. Bmlhomme

    May 13, 2020 9:16 pm

    You are telling me If I bring my own reusable bags, the employee cannot pack them, I must do my own packing. If I pay 10 cents for each bag, the employee charges that dime and then packs for me. Why not just throw another $1 on my bill and call it exactly what it is, another Connecticut tax.

  7. Carol Brennan

    May 13, 2020 7:02 pm

    PLEASE DO NOT RETURN THE PLASTIC BAG TAX!
    Individuals should not have to absorb this cost.
    Store workers should not be subjected to germs on reusable bags.

  8. stephen Winalski

    May 13, 2020 6:09 pm

    Our Governor, is looking at tax revenue. What ever Cuomo says are governor of CT does.
    Monkey see monkey do

  9. John Lennon

    May 13, 2020 5:41 pm

    Thanks Governor, were all in this together?? You lost my vote next time you SB..

  10. Doreen

    May 13, 2020 5:37 pm

    If this virus can be transmitted through reusable bags why wiuld the powers that be want to implement the 10 cent tax again when so many people are on unemployment and living day to day. The grocery stores have already raised prices on food to the point of not being able to afford to feed their families. Need to stop the craziness. 🤷‍♀️

    • Silvana

      May 14, 2020 2:11 pm

      I live in Italy plastic bag cost 15cents and you always bag your own grocery.

  11. Rose Mark

    May 13, 2020 5:29 pm

    So the store clerks will be permitted to handle my reusable cloth bags that I will bringing in with me?

  12. Nanci Natale

    May 13, 2020 4:59 pm

    This is not right. Democrat tax-happy Lamont – do you realize people aren’t working – the plastic bags were foisted back on us because checkers didn’t want to bag groceries into reusable bags – aren’t we suffering enough – you can’t at the very least postpone putting this into effect – people need help (which we’ll never get from you Democrats) not more taxes!!!!

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