It was only a single line-item veto in a $37.4 billion state budget, but it has fueled speculation over the fate of a controversial bill to impose a nickel fee on single use carry-out bags.

Gov. Phil Murphy blocked the diversion of funds targeted for lead abatement projects in the budget, a move welcomed by environmental and other advocates who want to see more resources dedicated to eliminating childhood exposure to lead.

In approving a state spending plan for the new fiscal year, the governor eliminated language that would have shifted at least $23 million raised by fees on plastic and paper bags to the general budget instead of lead programs as originally intended.

But Murphy has not yet decided even whether to sign the plastic bag fee bill (A-3267), which was fast-tracked through the Legislature during budget deliberations late last month. “No final decision has been made regarding the legislation,’’ said Dan Bryan, a spokesman for the governor.


Many environmental groups oppose fee

But many environmental groups oppose the bag fee, saying it does not work as well as a ban on plastics; the fee is too small to discourage plastic bag use; and it will end up pre-empting local bans passed by communities, like Jersey City and Hoboken.

“We’d like communities to have control of what happens there, especially when it comes to pollution,’’ said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the League of Conservation Voters of New Jersey. He is hoping Murphy will conditionally veto the fee bill.

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