If you think New Jersey has changed a lot from when you were growing up, hold on tight. A big change is blowing in the wind like an empty plastic bag on the side of a road.

I didn't care one bit for the legislation vetoed last year by Phil Murphy. It called for a 5-cent charge on single-use plastic and paper bags given out by retailers.

He didn't veto it because it was too draconian. He vetoed it because it wasn't nearly draconian enough to suit him. He told lawmakers to go back to the drawing board and come up with an even more restrictive law.

Along came S2776, a Senate bill calling for an outright ban on single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and polystyrene (styrofoam) food containers, and placing a 10-cent fee on paper bags.

You would think this would be crazy enough, right? Wrong. State Sen. Bob Smith is pushing to amend that bill to include an outright ban on paper bags, too. In fact his quote was, "No bags whatsoever. No single-use plastic, no paper."

Smith is thinking the amendments will be made this month and that this draconian bill will be passed by the Senate in June. He and the Democratic-led legislature want us all to have to carry our own reusable bags. Most can picture them as those big-as-granny-purses cloth totes.

Imagine this. Anytime you realize on your way home from work you need some yogurts, cheese and butter you'd better have that tote in your car already or learn how to juggle real fast. Those reusable bags they want us to all buy? Unsanitary. Studies have been done. Bacteria and gunk forms in them and you will end up using the same bags you had food in one week for your baby's new swim suit the next.

Which is another point. Most of us tend to think of the plastic bag ban in terms of the grocery store. Not only. This will also be convenience stores (the kind you stop in on your way to or from work on a whim when you may not have remembered to put a cloth bag in your car). It will be clothing stores. Electronic stores. Office supply stores. All stores.

Many of those stores will have to be retrofitted. If you shop at a Walmart that has the cashier load your items into plastic bags hooked to a spinning carousel, that carousel will now be useless. Their lanes and workspace will have to be completely changed due to this unfunded mandate to be able to load things into customers' own bags. Same for self-serve workspaces.

A straw at the boardwalk to sip your drink through? Nope. Bring your own, which you won't. Or drink out of an open cup. No doubt younger kids will slosh it everywhere while walking.

A meal in a restaurant you couldn't finish and would like to bring the rest home? Okay, in what exactly? All styrofoam containers will be banned. Something cardboard, that many foods might seep through if you're planning on stopping somewhere else first on your way home?

It rings hollow to call these single-use plastic bags. Many of us find new uses. Do you have a dog? Exactly. Do you have small trash cans in your bathroom? Yep, a liner. Kid needs to bring some things to school? There you go.

Still others are recycling them. There are bins right now at many grocery stores where you can bring your empty plastic bags to recycle. Shouldn't the law be one to encourage recycling rather than ban extremely useful products that will put a burden on every consumer and most businesses in the state?

But here we are, nestled in our little nanny state of New Jersey were mommy and daddy politician believe they are smarter than you, better than you, and know what's right for you. I suspect more birds are going to be leaving this nest soon.

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