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Plastic Bag Ban Passes In Springfield, Massachusetts

City Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07
City Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Springfield, Massachusetts, City Council on Monday banned stores from providing plastic bags at the checkout counter.

Single-use plastic bags will be phased out of retail shops over the next 18 months.

The council decided against an earlier proposal that would have required stores to charge 5 cents for each single-use paper bag.

The measure passed unanimously about three years after the Council first discussed a plastic bag ban.

That delay irked Councilor Melvin Edwards.

"If it's this difficult for us to get a ban on something that we all kind of basically know is the right thing to do, I can't imagine how difficult it's going to be with some of the more serious issues that will come before this council," Edwards said.

The ordinance will now go to Mayor Domenic Sarno's desk.

If signed into law, stores larger than 10,000 square feet will have until June 1, 2020 to stop providing plastic bags. Smaller stores have an additional six months.

Councilors punt on civilian police review

Councilors refused to vote on a measure that would have added some oversight to the city's police department, while stopping short of re-establishing a civilian police commission.

The proposal from Sarno was sent back to the Public Safety Committee for discussion.

Councilor Orlando Ramos chairs that committee, and doesn't think Sarno's plan goes far enough.

"That doesn't mean that I'm not open to more conversation," Ramos said. "As I stated earlier this evening, we had a pretty lengthy conversation with the law department, but I don't think that we're ready to take action on this ordinance as of yet.

The city council has passed multiple ordinances establishing a citizen police commission, most recently last December. Sarno has refused to implement them.

Springfield had a police commission until it was disbanded in 2005, and replaced it with a single commissioner.

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