The Bottle Bill Debate (10 Responses)

Today, the bottle bill was debated by the Senate as part of the Senate budget deliberations. It was offered by Senator Hedlund (Republican from Weymouth) as an amendment to the Senate’s budget proposal and would have expanded the list of redeemable bottles to include water, fruit juices, flavored waters, teas, and sports drinks.

There seemed to be a real possibility that the bottle bill might pass. Senator Pacheco chose to offer a substitute proposal, a commission, as an alternative to Senator Hedlund’s bottle bill proposal. Senator Pacheco’s substitute proposed a “commission to develop recommendations for promoting recycling and reducing the generation of solid waste.”

Because I have long been committed to supporting the bottle bill, I voted against Senator Pacheco’s substitute. I was one of 15 Senators to oppose the substitute; 22 Senators voted in support of the substitute amendment- but not until several Senators changed their vote to ensure the majority’s margin of victory, effectively killing the bottle bill proposal.

The passage of the substitute meant that we would not vote on the bottle bill as proposed in Senator Hedlund’s amendment. Instead, we next engaged in an up or down vote on the proposed commission. On this second vote, my choice was between no action on the issue and supporting a commission to develop recommendations for promoting recycling and reducing solid waste generation. At this stage, many bottle bill supporters voted for no action at all in protest. However, I voted in favor of the proposed commission, as it may focus useful attention on solid waste issues. 24 Senators voted in the affirmative, 13 in the negative.

Most senators on both sides were well-aware that there is strong opposition in the House of Representatives to the bottle bill. Given that opposition, to some extent, the whole debate was symbolic, but long-simmering emotions about the issue propelled a lengthy discussion led by Senator Hedlund.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

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    Will Brownsberger
    State Senator
    2d Suffolk and Middlesex District