Penny recycling plan to return in 2007
Capital News Service
LANSING - A bill aimed at increasing recycling in Michigan by collecting a 1-cent surcharge on most items priced above $2 has died in committee.
Members of the House Natural Resources, Great Lakes and Environment Committee refused to move it forward, saying they didn't have enough information on its effects, said Steve Daunt, legislative aide to Rep. David Palsrok, R- Manistee, who chairs the committee.
"It didn't look like people were comfortable enough with it to vote for it," Daunt said.
The proposal, introduced by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, would have placed a 1-cent charge on all items costing more than $2 except drugs, utilities, fuel and goods from vending machines.
That money would then have been available to local governments and private programs looking to start or expand recycling.
Michigan doesn't fund recycling programs.
Peter Wills, a legislative aide for Hansen, said the represenative would reintroduce the bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
"We really want to develop this comprehensive funding plan," Willis said.
Mary Dechow, chair of the Michigan Recycling Partnership, said the proposal is needed because cities often lack the money to establish and maintain effective recycling programs.
"A lot of communities don't maintain the funding needed to get one started," she said.
An April report by Bill Rustem of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing policy firm, said Michigan has a recycling rate of 20 percent, significantly lower than other Great Lakes states.
Minnesota, for example, has a 46 percent recycling rate. Its government funds recycling programs and has set recycling goals, Dechow said.
"We've never had a huge commitment behind it in the state," she said.
But some people argue the penny plan would hurt the state.
Eric Rule, director of governmental affairs for The Michigan Retailers Association, said retailers oppose the idea because it would require them to update computers and other equipment to account for the fee.
"To collect it and remit it to the state costs money," he said. "It's just one more thing that makes Michigan less competitive than other states."
Rep. Matthew Gillard, D-Alpena, said that he was opposes the bill because it would take too long to implement. Imposing the 1-cent fee also would have required a vote by state residents in the 2008 election, he said.
"Whatever money we raise we have to look closer at how that money is used," he said.
Doug Roberts, director of environmental policy for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supported the proposal because it gives consumers an incentive to recycle.
"We think it's a reasonable amount," he said.
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