The comprehensive litter and recycling solution based on a Tennessee bottle bill
The bottle bill is still very much alive. At its final hearing in the Senate Environment Committee, the sponsor, Sen. Doug Jackson, opted to roll it, intact, to next year.
All things considered, this is a good outcome. We knew we faced a whole new slate of legislators and committee members this year, and I think we made good progress getting them to understand the legislation. We heard a lot of excellent testimony, gained some vital allies and logged more press endorsements. Most important, the bill itself is now essentially perfect. It poses no new cost to distributors, it levels the playing field for recyclers, and it eliminates what I call the “mayonnaise jar” argument, by allowing redemption centers to accept other, non-deposit recyclables as well as deposit beverage containers.
Anyway, now that we have a perfect bill, we need to spend the rest of 2009 making sure it has the votes to pass in 2010. Here’s what I have in mind; please let me know which of these you’d be willing to help with:
1. Gain endorsements from all 95 county commissions (we already have three!)
2. Do door-to-door canvassing in Williamson County
3. Organize “Litter-&-Legislators” roadside cleanups
4. Expand our support network (Facebook, Twitter, blogs?)
5. Make sure the bottle bill is an issue in the gubernatorial race
1. Gain endorsements from all 95 county commissions
Three county commissions have already passed resolutions (Loudon, Hickman and Maury) supporting the bill; our goal is to gain the endorsements of the remaining 92. As most of you know, the TN County Mayors Association has already done so. Commissioners tend overwhelmingly to like this bill for the same reasons (more jobs, more revenue, less litter, lower waste costs and more money for schools, all at no cost to county budgets).
I’ve written a sample resolution (borrowing from Maury County’s) and am sending a copy to each county mayor and commission chair, along with a letter and brochure summarizing the revised bill. (Midtown Printing here in Nashville has generously donated 4,000 copies of the brochure.)
I’ve also promised to make sure the commissioners have whatever other information they need, including testimony from county residents. If you can help out in your county, let me know, and I will plug you in.
2. Go door-to-door in Williamson County
Although folks are welcome to canvass their own districts, this effort is aimed at Williamson County, home of District 23 Senator Jack Johnson. (His district also includes a small part of Davidson. To see if you are a constituent, click on this link: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/districtmaps/Senate23.pdf.)
Sen. Johnson is a high-powered legislator who led the opposition when the bill came before Senate Environment Committee in April. His chief objection, he said, is that it is a “$250-million tax” that is opposed by most of the businesses in his district. He dismisses the results of the UT poll that showed 80 percent support among voters.
Some politically astute folks have told us that the best way to address Johnson’s opposition is to talk directly to his constituents. The plan is to have volunteers go door-to-door in District 23, briefly summarizing the bill and asking respondents (1) if they support the measure, and (2) if they consider the deposit to be a tax. We’ll pass the results on to Sen. Johnson and other Williamson County legislators. We may also share them with the press. If you can help organize or take part in these efforts–esp. if you live in Williamson County–contact me.
3. Get youth to organize “Litter-&-Legislators” roadside cleanups
Everyone says we’ve got to get young people involved. Why not have them–Scouts, outdoor clubs, etc.–persuade legislators to join them in picking up local roadsides?
Our system is real simple. Participants simply put all the deposit-beverage containers in one 13-gallon drawstring garbage bag; put everything else in another bag; and tally the results. We had great success with a similar series of cleanups in 2005-2006 that showed 50% of litter volume is bottles and cans. Contact me if you want to know more, or go to www.tnbottlebill.org, click on “Events and Cleanups,” and download the guidelines for “X Marks the Spot.”
4. Expand our network using new-fangled tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs
I’ve just been introduced to the brave new world of social networking. Granted, all I’ve done so far is create my own profile at Facebook, and I’ve never even sent a text message, let alone Twittered. Nonetheless, I know it’s the organizational tool of the future. If you know how to do such things, please set up a blog, Facebook and/or Twitter network for POP, tell me how to use it, and I’ll notify everyone else.
5. Help make sure the bottle bill is an issue in the governor’s race
Nashville businessman Ward Cammack, one of the Democrats running for governor, recently became the first mainstream candidate for any office, ever in the history of the state, to publicly call for passage of a bottle bill! This really is an act of courage (one of the other candidates owns a beer distributorship!) but it can only help give this issue more credibility and visibility.
I’d like to see every candidate take a position publicly on the bill. If you know any of them–or even if you don’t–contact them, and ask if they have a position on the bill. If they have no position, offer to provide them information so that they can take one. If they are opposed, suggest that they look more closely at the bill. And if they support it, consider putting your own support–and money–into their campaign–and make sure they know why you are doing so.
Here are links to their campaigns:
a. Ward Cammack (D) http://www.wardcammack.com SUPPORTS BOTTLE BILL
b. Kim McMillan (D) www.kimmcmillan.com c. Mike McWherter (D) www.mikemcwherter.com
d. Roy Herron (D) www.tndp.org/group/royherronforgovernor
e. Bill Haslam (R) http://www.billhaslam.com
f. Ron Ramsey (R) teamronramsey.com
g. Zach Wamp (R) http://www.zachwamp.comh. Bill Gibbons (R) http://www.gibbons2010.com
Thanks, folks. I hope to hear from you!
Marge Davis, Ph.D.
Pride of Place/Tennessee Bottle Bill Project
A Project of Scenic Tennessee, Inc.
45 Burris Court
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
home (615) 758-8647
fax (615) 754-0966
cell (615) 294-2651
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