Plastic straws

CONCORD — The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday voted to recommend the full Senate kill House-passed bills restricting the use of plastic straws and single-use grocery store bags.

Democratic Sen. Jon Morgan of Brentwood was the only vote against the “inexpedient to legislate” motions on the five-member committee, which has a 3-2 Democratic majority.

Morgan said he would not have voted to endorse the bills, but instead had hoped they could be referred back to committee for further study.

“I don’t think there’s a huge desire for this, and am very cognizant that the business community is opposed to this broadly,” he said after the vote.

“That said, I am open to additional conversations and that’s what I committed to my constituents from day one. I’m open to all sides and that’s what I wanted to indicate with my vote today.”

Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, a Commerce Committee member, said she still anticipates a vigorous debate on the Senate floor, despite the 4-1 committee vote against the bills.

HB 558, which passed the House, 196-146, on March 19 would require food service businesses to provide a single-use plastic straw only when requested by the customer.

Under HB 550, grocery stores and other food services businesses would have four months to exhaust their current inventory of single-use plastic bags, after which they could not be offered to customers at the point of sale.

Customers who specifically request a single-use plastic bag would be charged 10 cents for each bag. That bill also passed the House on March 19, 201-145.

It was opposed by the N.H. Retail Association, N.H. Hospital Association, N.E. Convenience Store Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the N.H. Grocers Association.