Friday, June 15, 2012

Wolf to Keep Fighting for Bottle Bill Vote

From State House News Service, 6/15/2012

After a bill to expand the state’s bottle redemption program to include additional beverage containers was sent to study Thursday, Rep. Alice Wolf said she'll continuing to fight for a floor vote. The Cambridge Democrat and House Elder Affairs Committee chair, who is giving up her seat at the end of her term, said she wasn’t surprised the bill was sent to study and that advocates “will be trucking on” in the effort. “We’re not folding up our tent. We’ll be continuing our work to bring it to the floor,” Wolf said, adding that the public demands the bill’s passage and many members are committed to seeing it through. When asked if that meant a recharged attempt next session, Wolf was adamant that she would try to get a vote on the bill before the end of formal sessions next month. “I’m not going to be around next session. We’re not talking about next session. We’re going to keep working because you can pull things out of studies, too,” Wolf said. Wolf said that a ballot question on expanding the bottle program, a tactic that advocates abandoned in favor of a legislative approach this year, is still an option for the future. “The updated bottle bill will become law in one way or the other, hopefully this year and if not, maybe next year,” she said.  The bill's critics compare the added deposit cost on beverages to a tax, say retailers will have difficulty handling higher volumes of returnables, and believe expanded curbside recycling efforts are a better way to decrease litter.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back-room, closed-door maneuvers postpone action on Updated Bottle Bill

Back-room, closed-door maneuvers postpone action on Updated Bottle Bill

News Release

Despite a legislative committee’s vote to bury a proposal to update the state’s Bottle Bill, proponents pledged to continue their push for the bill’s passage before the end of the legislative session.

“The idea of sending it to a ‘study’ is an insult to the public of Massachusetts,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “The bill has been studied, restudied, and studied once again. Seventy-seven percent of the public supports it, a majority of legislators (105) are on record endorsing it, and 208 cities and towns have passed resolutions in favor of it. Burying this bill today shows how profoundly out of touch a few legislators on this one committee are with their constituents. There is no alternative, better way, nor substitute for the enormously successful deposit system.”

Efforts to update the state’s 5-cent container deposit law have been pending in the State Legislature 14 years. The liquor lobby and powerful special interests have staunchly opposed the bill, citing decreased profits.

“The Massachusetts Legislature has been thwarting the will of the people since 1998,” stated James McCaffrey, Director of the Sierra Club. “We applaud those legislators who voted and spoke against burying the Bottle Bill, but the only explanation for what happened on Beacon Hill today is that the corporate special interests are in control. This committee is ignoring the
Governor, our cities and towns, the public, and a bipartisan majority in both houses who want to actually vote on updating the Bottle Bill.”

Proponents reiterated that they simply want a full vote by the House and the Senate. For over a decade, a few legislators in leadership positions have delayed, deferred, and buried this bill in back-room, closed-door maneuvers.

Proponents point to majority support in both the Massachusetts House and Senate, and vow to bring it to the floor for a vote. “A bill with 77% public support should not be bottled up in committee,” added Pam Julian, Legislative Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

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How did each member of the committee vote?

Against the Bottle Bill
Rep. John Keenan (D-Salem)
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell)
Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield)
Rep. Stephen DiNatale (D-Fitchburg)
Rep. Paul Adams (R-Andover)
Rep. Carlo Basile (D-East Boston)
Rep. Tom Golden (D-Lowell),
Rep. John Mahoney (D-Worcester)
Rep. Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich)

For the Bottle Bill
Sen. Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield)
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton)
Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton)
Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow)
Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy)
Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood)
Rep. Walter Timilty (D-Milton).