NH committee votes against legislation on single-use plastic bags

A committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives vote Tuesday not to recommend a bill allowing municipalities to regulate the distribution of single-use plastic and paper bags.

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HB 1119 would include regulating the distribution of plastic bags in the powers and duties of cities, as well as the ability to issue permits for tattoo facilities and the ability to regulate noise, among others.

Representative Laurel Stavis, a Democrat from western Lebanon, said the conversation about the bill felt like deja vu after previous efforts to ban single-use plastic bags failed.

But Stavis said it was a different effort.

“It’s just empowering,” she said. “Cities and towns could probably already do that if they wanted to. It would just make it easier to interact with retail outlets if there was something in the law that allowed them to do that if they wanted to.

Rep. Rosemarie Rung, a Democrat from Merrimack, said she voted against a statewide ban but wanted cities to have the opportunity to decide for themselves on the issue.

“I pretty much bet it would never fly to Merrimack. But I’m not going to assume that I know better than other communities,” she said.

In Keene, considerations of banning single-use plastic bags have been halted by uncertainty surrounding state licensing requirements, The Keene Sentinel reported. A councilman said he would likely propose a ban on plastic bags if the House bill passes.

Rep. Richard Lascelles, a Republican from Litchfield, expressed concern about the practicality of implementing plastic bag distribution regulations, particularly at a convenience store, where people may not have their own handy bags.

“A convenience store, for me, would be really affected by that,” he said.

An amendment to the bill was also rejected. He reportedly clarified that the legislation only applied to point-of-sale bags, such as grocery checkout bags, and did not apply to plastic bags such as trash or other bags sold in bulk.

A recent global survey revealed 75% of people want to see single-use plastics banned.

Eight states, including Connecticut, Maine and Vermont, have banned single-use plastic bags, according to at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bryce K. Locke