R.I. Bottle Bill Legislation Introduced

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — A bottle bill topped the list of environmental/public health legislation introduced during the week of Jan. 11 in the General Assembly. The Plastic Bottle and Container Labeling Act would require at least a 5-cent fee on all beverage containers. Excluded from the deposit are juice boxes, milk cartons and biodegradable containers.

The bill also would prohibit the use of plastic six-pack rings. The goals of the act are to increase recycling, and to create redemption centers and reverse vending machines for redemption.

The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) would oversee the program. The operators of the state landfill and recycling facility weren’t consulted on the legislation. RIRRC conducted a study in 2009 showing that a bottle bill would lose money.

Rhode Island and New Hampshire are the only New England states without a bottle-redemption program.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jean Philippe Barros, D-Pawtucket, was referred to the House Finance Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Quarrying operations
Sponsored by Rep. Blake Filippi, I-Block Island, this bill would allow Charlestown to regulate excavation and quarry activity. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Government. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Fireworks
Sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence, this bill would prohibit the use of fireworks between midnight and 7 a.m. Exempt from the legislation are sparklers, fountains, illuminating torches, ground spinners, snakes, party poppers, snappers and glow worms. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Brownfields
Sponsored by Rep. John Edwards, D-Tiverton, this bill would exempt owners of industrial property from liability for previous hazardous waste spills and oil leaks. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Municipal Government. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Powdered caffeine
Sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Crowley, D-Central Falls, this bill would prohibit the sale and possession of powdered caffeine by anyone younger than 18. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a Jan. 21 hearing.

Conservation land
Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Blazejewski, D-Providence, this bill would require a court review of a change to an easement on a protected property. The review would provide oversight so that land protected by an easement isn’t compromised by development or other changes that detract from its protected status. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Electric bills
Sponsored by Corvese, this bill would limit utility-bill increases to 2.5 percent every two years. The bill was referred to the House Corporations Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Public transit
Sponsored by Rep. Michael Chippendae, R-Foster, this bill would require the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to provide public-transit services to all Rhode Island cities and towns, except for Block Island. The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.
 
Buying power
Sponsored by Rep. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, this bill would make it easier for cities and towns to aggregate their electricity use for purchases. The bill was referred to the House Corporations Committee. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Harbor seal
Sponsored by Rep. Samuel Azzinaro, D-Westerly, this bill would designate the harbor seal as the official state marine mammal. The House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources is scheduled to hold a Jan. 21 hearing.

Wood heaters
Prompted by bothersome smoke from an outdoor wood heat, Sen. William Walaska, D-Warwick, sponsored a bill to regulate the sale and installation of outdoor wood heaters. The legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Naturopathic medicine
Sponsored by Sen. Roger Picard, D-Woonsocket, this bill would create procedures and licensing for naturopathic physicians and the practice of naturopathic medicine, which includes the use of botanical and homeopathic medicines, and counseling and nutrition. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. No hearing date has been scheduled.  

Wine biscuits
Sponsored by Sen. Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, this bill would allow retailers to sell between 500 and 2,000 gallons of wine for the purpose of making wine biscuits. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veteran Affairs. No hearing date has been scheduled.