SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Legislation that would expand Vermont’s bottle bill faced an uncertain fate in the House after passing the Senate on last Wednesday morning. Though the bill has passed both chambers, lawmakers in the House must now reconcile amendments added to the bill in the Senate — and time is running out. The bottle bill, passed in 1972, established a redemption system that charges consumers a deposit, worth a few cents, when they buy certain beverages. Consumers can recoup that money when they return the empty containers to redemption centers and retail markets.
The bill currently before lawmakers, H.175, would expand the types of beverages covered by the law. It would include, for example, water bottles, hard cider and sports drinks. Currently, the law covers only 46% of beverages sold in the state. Senators narrowly voted 17-13 to pass the bill Wednesday morning. It needed 15 votes to clear the 30-member chamber.
With the legislative session careening to a close in the next few days, Conor Kennedy, chief of staff to House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, said he was not sure the bottle bill would “get here in time.” Gov. Phil Scott appears uneasy about the bill, though he hasn’t said outright that he’d veto it. His office “has not thoroughly reviewed the current iteration yet given very recent changes, so no decisions have been made,” Jason Maulucci, the governor’s press secretary, wrote in an email. “With previous versions of the bill, the Governor has shared concerns that were raised by the bipartisan group of senators who voted ‘no’ today that implementation could be unfeasible,” Maulucci wrote.
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