The reason it's being protested is indeed because there are many who are living day to day, barely squeaking by. Those who can't afford the luxury of a canvas bag (one that'll last for at least a year or two). The idea of having to add on 5¢ per bag, may seem nominal to you and me; yet, think of the person living hand to mouth. receiving only a Social Security check (legitimate health issues prevent them from continuing work). They receive SNAP benefits (food stamps) and supplement their food supply from food pantries.
And let's not forget the single parent of two or three. She or he is only working part time. The other parent contributes nothing and has moved back home with their parents. The cost of bags can add up.
One of my biggest objections to the proposed bag fees offered thus far, is the insanity of the store being the recipient of the bag fee. It doesn't go back into the coffers, it lines the store owners pockets! This is a disgerace. The stores often accept used plastic bags, regardless from where they come. There local Rite Aid accepts all bags. No payment for them though. It would be encouraging if the state worked this similar to cans and bottles, where a few is charged at purchase and then refunded if the empties are returned.
Obviously, the idea of non-biodegradable products is destroying the planet, placing the cost - yet again, on those who have next to nothing, is not the answer. How about trying biodegradable materials as a start?
Another matter is that quite a few of us, use the bags to put trash in. It works much better than the larger bags sold by various companies, smaller bags take less space in the landfill as well.