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Legislative Priorities 2009-2010

The Massachusetts Chapter works to pass important environmental bills and the state and local level. To get involved in our legislative program, please contact legislate@sierraclubmass2.org. This year’s legislative priorities include the below. Those that were written by or filed on request of the Sierra Club are noted. We also testify and support MANY other bills and we will post them here as the legislative session continues.

(S)=Written by - or filed on the request of - the Sierra Club

RECYCLING and SOLID WASTE

Bottle Bill Update (S) #H3515/S1480
ACTION: Deadline (Joint Rule 10) Extended to 7/14/10
Formal Title: An Act to Improve Recycling Rates in the Commonwealth
Sponsors: Rep. Alice Wolf, Sen. Cynthia Creem
Contact: Kathleen.Hornby@state.ma.us
Additional information: click here
Description: Adds water, sports drinks, and other on-the-go beverages to our existing successful bottle bill. Would raise $15million in new funds for the commonwealth with no additional public costs. The update would keep current with consumer habits by adding sports drinks, water, and other on-the-go beverages. It would decrease landfill use, as containers take up more space in landfills than most other types of waste. It would save energy and oil, as PET “#1” plastic is 99% petroleum. It would increase the current 20% recycling rate of non-covered containers to 80%, decrease litter, and create jobs in the recycling sector.

Plastic Bag Ban  (S) H798 -
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)

Formal Title: An Act Relative To Decreasing Environmental Hazards, Toxins, and Litter
Sponsors: Rep. Matt Patrick
Contact: Margaret.Konner@state.ma.us
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00798.pdf 
With over 1 billion bird/fish/mammal deaths per year, plastic bags in the environment are reaching a worldwide crisis. They’re slow to break down, and when they do, they turn into toxic compounds. Only 5.1% are recycled. Inexpensive and practical alternatives exist, from paper, safe biodegradable plastics, and reusable cloth bags. This bill exempts small stores under $500K/year in sales and targets the large supermarkets – many of which have already stopped providing plastic bags. See also H719, Rep. Ehrlich

Producer Take-Back for Electronics ("EWaste") H 4374
ACTION: reported favorably by committee
ACTION: reported favorably "Rules Committee"
Currently in Ways and Means
Formal Title: To Require Producer Responsibility For Collection, Reuse, and Recycling Of Discarded Electronic Products
Sponsors: Rep. William M. Straus
Contact: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht04/ht04374.htm 
Requires producers (or first importers) to pay the costs of managing their discarded electronic products. Products include computers, printers, TVs, video cassette players, external hard drives and others. This requirement would provide a financial incentive for producers to design products that are non-toxic and easy to disassemble, repair, or recycle. Producers are required to submit a plan to the DEP detailing how they will make recycling convenient for the consumer. Producer Responsibility programs boost recycling rates and generate new businesses and jobs in collection, disassembly, and recycling.

GLOBAL WARMING AND AIR QUALITY

No Increase in Coal Burning  (S) H3069
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)

Formal Title: An Act to Reduce Coal Burning and Use
Sponsor: Rep. Lori Ehrlich
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht03pdf/ht03069.pdf
Bans the new construction of coal-burning facilities or coal-gas conversion facilities. Coal produces more global warming CO2 than any other fuel. Its mining is environmentally devastating. There’s no such thing as “clean coal” despite the hype that the coal industry want you to believe. Does not affect existing coal facilities.

LAND USE

Public Lands Preservation Act (“Article 97/No Net Loss”) (S) H3438
ACTION: reported favorably by committee
Formal Title: An Act Protecting The Natural and Historic Resources of the Commonwealth
Sponsors: Rep. Ruth Balser
Contact: Jake.Lambert@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of S2388 (with some modifications)
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht03pdf/ht03438.pdf 
Article 97 of the State Constitution requires that public land acquired for natural resource purposes not be used for other purposes or otherwise disposed of without a two thirds vote of each branch of the legislature. There is hardly a city or town in the Commonwealth that does not have some park, playground, conservation land, or other public land that is meant to be protected by Article 97. The bill would establish policy that no change in use or disposition of Article 97 land occur without an alternatives analysis and provision of replacement land.

Establish Old Growth Forest Reserve (S) H774
Formal Title: An Act Authorizing the Establishment of Old Growth Forest Reserves.
Sponsor: Rep. Kulik
Contact: Katherine.Bishop@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H797
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00774.pdf 
In Massachusetts, there are only a few small areas of forests that have escaped the clearcutting of the past. These Old Growth Forests, which are unique habitats, have been catalogued, and the next step is that they need to be protected by placing them in a forest reserve.

Local Control of Personal Watercraft (“Jet Skis”) (S) H2256
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)

Formal Title: An Act Relative to Jet Skis, Surf Jets, Wet Bikes, and Other Personal Watercraft in Municipalities.
Sponsor: Rep. Jim O’Day
Contact: Rachel.McCook@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H2356
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht02pdf/ht02256.pdf 
Under current law, if a city/town wishes to place some restrictions on Personal Watercraft (so-called “Jet Skis”), such as limiting hours, or curtailing use during sensitive waterfowl migration periods, they are unable to do so. This bill would enable cities/towns to place restrictions on smaller bodies of water that are enclosed within the municipality if they so desire.

TRANSPORTATION

Unburden the MBTA’s Debt Load  H3326
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)

Formal Title: An Act Improving the Finances of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Sponsors: Rep. Carl Sciortino and Rep. Alice Wolf
Contact: Kathleen.Hornby@state.ma.us
Bill text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht03pdf/ht03151.pdf 
During the Big Dig construction, the T was forced to accept $2.9 billion of the project’s debt load. Due to the payments on this and their existing debt load, the T is struggling to maintain service and equipment. This bill requires to state to assume the $2.9 billion in debt, which allow the T to maintain service objectives. 

Preserve the North South Rail Link (NSRL) Right-of-way (S) H3227
Formal Title: An Act To Preserve The Right Of Way For The North South Rail Link
Sponsors: Rep. Mary Grant
Contact: dale.earl@hou.state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H3496
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht03pdf/ht03227.pdf
The purpose of building the NSRL project  is to create the backbone for a modern, efficient, convenient rail service that offers an attractive transportation option for residents and tourists traveling throughout New England and the entire Northeast. The NSRL will close the only gap in the East Coast’s intercity rail system. This bill would study the best corridor for the link and protect it from future building construction that could prohibit its establishment.  

Other bills:

Reinstate the Clean Environment Fund  (S) H766
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)
Formal Title: An Act To Reinstate The Clean Environment Fund
Sponsors: Rep. Koczera
Contact: Cannon.Farrar@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H792
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00766.pdf 
The Clean Environment Fund was eliminated by Gov. Weld. These funds were used to help our cities and towns increase recycling rates – which have unfortunately steadily fallen since the fund’s demise. This fund is generated by unclaimed deposits (“Escheatage”).   Increase Redemption Center's reimbursements

Support/Increase Handling Fee for Redemption Centers (S) H3113
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)
Formal Title: An Act Relative to Reusable Beverage Containers
Sponsors: Rep. Pam Richardson 
Contact: Kurt.Stiegel@state.ma.us
New/Refile: new
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht03pdf/ht03113.pdf
Redemption centers are the backbone of our successful Bottle Bill, but our redemption centers haven't had a raise in 18 years - and are on the verge of collapse. This bill increases the handling fee that redemption centers receive by just one cent (from 2.25 cents to 3.25 cents). The price of beverages has risen considerably over the past 18 years; however the handling fee has not. This increase will also account for inflation during this time period. The increase is entirely paid for by beverage distributors, not by the Commonwealth.

Public Postings when making changes to Parks (S) H758
Formal Title: An Act to Provide Public Input Into Changes to Public Lands and Buildings Located Thereon
Sponsors: Rep. Kocot
Contact: Diana.Szynal@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H739
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00758.pdf 
Currently, there is no requirement that Massachusetts state agencies and authorities provide advance notice or hold public hearings, before felling trees, clearing land, building structures, or making other alterations to public lands. Residents frequently find out about changes only when they see the spray paint on the trees or the backhoes on site. This bill requires public notice and input before for significant physical alterations to state parks and other public natural resource lands could take place. 

Place Recycling Receptacles next to Vending Machines  (S) H3137
ACTION: Sent to study (killed)
Formal Title: An Act to Improve Recycling Rates in the Commonwealth by Providing Recycling Containers Adjacent to Beverage Vending Machines.
Sponsors: Rep. Alice Wolf
Contact: Kathleen.Hornby@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H3297
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht03pdf/ht03137.pdf 
Additional information:
Beverage vending machines are regulated by the Commonwealth. With such a wide array of beverages being sold, and the need to improve the state’s recycling rate, this bill requires that vending machines have a nearby receptacle for empty beverage containers. Thi bill would place the responsibility of emptying the recycling containers on the vending machine owner, instead of having the empty bottles and cans placed in the municipal waste stream.

Incineration Moratorium (S) H725
ACTION: Administrative action to continue moratorium
Formal Title: An Act To Prohibit The Incineration Of Solid Waste
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Falzone
Contact: Naomi.Parker@state.ma.us
New/refile: New
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00725.pdf
The DEP instituted a moratorium on expanding trash incineration over 17 years ago. Incineration produces toxins such as dioxins, furans and other particulates. As a source of energy, burning trash produces more global warming CO2 than natural gas, oil, or even coal. Current technologies have made inadequate progress in reducing the toxicity and threat that incineration poses to the state’s resident. This bill makes our temporary moratorium permanent.

Particulates Effect on Health H2140
ACTION: Reported out favorably by Com'te on Public Health, sent to Joint Committee on Health Care Financing
Formal Title: An Act Relative To Reporting On Health Effects Of Particulate Matter
Sponsors: Rep. Denise Provost
Contact: Mark.Kennedy@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H5042
http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht02pdf/ht02140.pdf 
Enables the Department of Public Health and the Center for Environmental Health to conduct a study of the data on the health effects of diesel air pollution from cars, trucks, buses, and trains on people in facilities located within 500 feet of a road (with 50,000 vehicle trips/day) or rail line using diesel locomotives. The study may also study cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular incidence resulting from traffic-related particles.

Healthy Breathing Act H808
Formal Title: An Act Reducing Human Exposure To Particulate Matter Pollution
Sponsor: Rep. Denise Provost
Contact: Mark.Kennedy@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H840
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00808.pdf 
Additional information:
This Bill proposes to reduce the number of health problems that are caused or worsened by human exposure to fine and ultra-fine particulate matter that results from the burning of diesel fuel. This bill attempts to limit the construction of specific residential and institutional facilities (listed below) within 500 feet of areas with harmful diesel exhaust.

Offroad Diesel Equipment (S) H854
Formal Title: An Act Reducing Diesel Emissions from Non Road Construction Equipment
Sponsor: Rep. Alice Wolf
Contact: Kathleen.Hornby@state.ma.us
New/Refile: Refile of H898
Bill Text: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00pdf/ht00854.pdf 
This bill requires that non-road diesel construction equipment use ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel at 15 parts per billion. This would permit new advanced emission-control technologies. These engines contribute greatly to air pollution in many of our cities and towns. This bill continues efforts to reduce airborne toxins. The resulting reductions in NOx and particulate emissions from these engines will provide enormous public health benefits. The EPA estimates that by 2030, controlling these emissions would annually prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 8,900 hospitalizations, and one million work days lost nationally.

Please note: Bill status is based on the best information available to us at time of publication. The status and/or language of bills can change quickly and the Sierra Club reserves the right to change its position on a bill based on the most recent data, which may not be posted on this web site. In many cases, no position on a bill indicates that it is a recent file or the Sierra Club has not yet completed a formal analysis and voted to take a position on the proposed legislation. Please check back for updates, or sign up for SCAN for the latest news and alerts.

See Also
Massachusetts Bill Tracking

 

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