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Mar 20, 2017 1:13 PM

Portsmouth City Council can't ban plastic bags, legal department says

PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth's legal department believes the City Council should stop debating a ban on single-use plastic bags as "no enabling legislation currently exists to ban plastic bags."

READ: Portsmouth's proposed plastic bag ban now facing legal issues

"(City Attorney Robert Sullivan and Assistant City Attorney Jane Ferrini) are recommending that the ordinance to ban plastic bags be postponed indefinitely awaiting further developments in the Legislature," according to the March 20 City Council meeting agenda.

Some committee members believe the legislation will do more harm than good, specifically to the the town's legal department. The bill does not have authority to enable certain state statutes for the ban, Ferrini stated in a memo obtained by Seacoastonline.

One lawyer argued that Portsmouth still may have the authority to ban the bags under the state's solid waste statute.

Other members of the board argued that if they don't have the authority to pass the ban, then possibly they can work to encourage clean-up efforts surrounding stores who use them, in order to reduce plastic waste.

The City Council is scheduled to hold their first reading of House Bill 481 on Monday night after originally tabling the first reading during the March 6 meeting. The council can either pass the first reading or table the matter indefinitely.

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