On March 3, the New Hampshire Senate will vote on SB 410, a bill that would allow towns and cities to ban plastic bags at large retailers.
Sen. Martha Fuller Clark is sponsoring the bill on behalf of the Portsmouth City Council, which is interested in a plastic bag ban.
Supporters of plastic bag bans argue that bags are a waste of fossil fuels, difficult to recycle, and can harm marine wildlife.
"54% of the world is currently living with a bag ban or fee," said Hayley Harmon, speaking on behalf of the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). "Recently, even Canadian Walmarts charge for plastic bags."
At the bill hearing February 17, Rep. Frederick Rice mounted a defense of plastic bags. He pointed out many problems with paper and reusable bags, such as the spread of bacteria.
"The fact of the matter is that 65% of all people use, reuse [plastic] bags for garbage," said Rice. "And where would the world be if you couldn’t use a plastic bag to pick up after your dog."
Stakeholders also debated the right of cities and towns to pass plastic bag ordinances.
"Municipalities should reserve the right to make decisions about their own waste stream, whatever the material may be," testified Harmon.
"[The New Hampshire Legislature] is the third largest legislative body in the English speaking world... That makes this state's governing body a citizens legislature, and a primary reason why home rule was never contemplated in the past," said John Dumais, President and CEO of the New Hampshire Grocers Association.
The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommended killing the bill.
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