AP NEWS

Senate kills plastic straw bill, replaces plastic bag bill

May 15, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday killed a bill targeting soda straws and recycled a measure on town waste reduction goals to replace one that would have banned store plastic bags.

Senators said they found the straw bill, which would prohibit restaurants from providing plastic straws to customers unless specifically requested, unnecessary. They said people and businesses are already doing away with straws.

But senators differed on a bill that would’ve prohibited stores with more than 1,000 square feet (92.9 sq. meters) of retail space from providing plastic carryout bags to customers. Some felt it needed more committee work and others felt it should be killed. The House passed the straw and bag bills, but a Senate committee recommended that they be rejected.

“I think we’re at that tipping point with our uses and overuses of plastic bags in our society,” said Sen. Jay Kahn, a Democrat from Keene. “We need to make advances.”

Democratic Sen. Dan Feltes, of Concord, introduced an amendment that brought back a bill on towns’ required reporting of waste reduction “so that we can move forward with the overarching issue of how we deal with waste more generally,” he said.

Towns would report to the state the weight of solid wastes collected and diverted to recycling, composting and other categories. Feltes said language in the bill was agreed upon by the New Hampshire Municipal Association and the Department of Environmental Services.

Republican Sen. Jeb Bradley, of Wolfeboro, said while he supported the measure, he was concerned that the underlying bill could return when lawmakers meet to work out their differences on the legislation.

Supporters of the measures emphasized the harm plastic causes to wildlife and the environment. Opponents portrayed them as over-the-top government intrusions.