March Madness and the Updated Bottle Bill

I’m a basketball fan like anyone else (though hopefully most of you are doing better with your bracket than I am), but the more pressing definition of “March Madness” is the action taken on March 20 by the Telecom, Utilities and Energy  Committee, chaired by Rep. John Keenan of Salem and  Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield.  Rather, I should say the ‘inaction’ taken, as they postponed moving the bill out of Committee (technically called an ‘extension’)-as if they haven’t had enough time or gotten enough data to move this bill.  Maybe not as scintillating as the stats or percentages for the NCAA, but let’s take a look at these numbers:

– In a state wide poll conducted by MassINC Polling Group last year, 77% of the public said they supported the update.

– Over 300 supporters turned out to the TUE’s public hearing on this bill, on a hot Wednesday morning last July, to encourage the Committee to quickly report out the bill. (Yup, that was last July, just think of what normally gets accomplished in 9 months’ time.)

– To date, 207 of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns have passed resolutions in support of the bill.

– On Valentine’s Day last month, several business representatives hosted a press conference at the State House to launch “Businesses for the Updated Bottle Bill”, with over 370 small business endorsers.

– Over the course of the past year, more than 15,000 postcards have been delivered to legislators from their constituents, voicing their support.

– There are 80 cosponsors of the bill80 cosponsors of the bill; including both Democrats and Republicans.

– (this one requires a drumroll) This bill has been pending in the Legislature for 12 years, and has never come to the floor for a vote.

The bill needs to get reported out of committee to get to the floor of the House, and for over a decade now it’s been bottled up (that’s a weak attempt at bottle bill humor but if I didn’t laugh I’d….).

We’re in this to win this, but boy do I feel like calling foul.

Janet Domenitz is the Executive Director of MASSPIRG, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.

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