Mass. Legislative Committee Blocks Bottle Bill

Jun 14, 2012

A bill that would expand Massachusetts’ recycling laws to include a five-cent deposit for plastic containers for noncarbonated beverages has again failed to pass a committee vote to enter legislative debate, drawing criticism from proponents. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

What’s commonly referred to as the “Bottle Bill” was sent back for further study by a 10 to 6 vote by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. Efforts to update the state’s recycling laws have been thwarted for the past 14 years. For now, it seems like bill’s traditional path through the legislature has been defeated again.

State Senator Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield who is Co-Chair of the Committee and voted against sending the bill for further study said that he has hope for the bill in the next session.

Downing continued that although difficult, the bill still has other ways to reach the house and senate for a vote in the current session, which ends in July.

Opponents in the past including House Speaker Robert DeLeo have labeled the updated bottle bill as a tax that would harm businesses. Earlier this year, DeLeo pledged not to introduce new taxes in the state government.

The office of Representative John Keenan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecom, Utilities, and Energy, was one of the 10 who voted to push the bill into further study, did not supply WAMC with a statement in time for broadcast.

Proponents of the bill argue that expand bottle deposit and return laws will keep trash out of landfills and provide an incentive for people to recycle.

James McCaffery, Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, whose organization rallied on the steps of the Capitol this week, says that it’s unfair for a legislative committee to block a bill that he sees has broad-based support.

Janet Domenitz, Director of public policy research group MASSPIRG, cited figures of support for expanding recycling laws in Massachusetts.