Press Releases

League of Women Voters Backs Updated Bottle Deposit Ballot Effort

8/7/13 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is asking voters to expand the deposit on single-serve beverage containers to non-carbonated beverages.

The League joined MassPIRG and the Sierra Club Wednesday in filing a request with the Massachusetts Attorney General to put the updated bottle deposit question on the ballot in November 2014 and will be working to collect the signatures needed to get the issue on the ballot.

The current five-cent deposit on carbonated beverages was enacted in 1982. Supporters of the ballot initiative argue that the deposit should be expanded to include such non-carbonated beverages as water, tea and sports drinks. They have been encouraging the legislature to make that change for over 14 years, but the legislation has failed to pass.

“This ballot initiative will give the citizens of Massachusetts the chance to update the bottle deposit law, and past polls have shown widespread support for an expanded deposit program,” said Anne Borg, co-president, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. “Deposits encourage consumers to return bottles so they can be recycled instead of discarding them, reducing litter. Look around any playground and you see discarded water bottles, but few discarded soda cans. Expanding deposits will also reduce the costs to cities and towns to collect and dispose of trash that includes containers that should be recycled.”

“It makes no sense to have a deposit on a bottle of sparkling water but not a bottle of still water. Consumers can be easily confused about which bottles to take back for redemption and which to put in their recycling bins,” she said.

Supporters of the expanded bottle deposit initiative, including the League, will be collecting signatures this fall to put the question on the ballot.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization which encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues. For additional information, see the website, www.lwvma.org.

League of Women Voters Supports Bills to Strengthen Low-Income Families

6/5/2013 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities in support of bills that would encourage educational opportunities and support financial stability for low-income families and individuals.

The bills, S.37 and H.93, An Act Promoting Financial Stability and Asset Development

for Low to Moderate Income Families, are sponsored by Sen. James Eldridge and Rep. Linda Forry. They encourage vocational education and other programs to help families and individuals receiving state assistance to become self-supporting and financially independent.

In her written testimony to the joint committee, Clarice B. Gordon, LWVMA legislative specialist on meeting basic human needs, pointed out that the majority of assistance recipients are young mothers with children. “It is particularly important that these women are allowed and encouraged to pursue their education. The short time that they are receiving aid is often the best time in their lives they will ever have to finish high school, take college courses or improve their vocational skills. Little is gained by having these women fulfill their work requirements in low paying jobs and be no better prepared two years later to support themselves and their children,” she wrote.

The League testimony added that aid recipients pursuing further education should not be subject to requirements that prevent them from effectively completing that education, and that aid recipients who are working should be granted reasonable allowances to permit them to continue working such as owning a reliable car or deducting expenses such as uniform costs.

League of Women Voters Supports Carbon Tax Proposal

 4/15/2013 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has submitted testimony in support of a bill proposing to create a carbon tax in the state to the Joint Committee on Revenue.

The League supports H.2532, “An Act Relative to shifting from carbon emissions to transportation investment,” sponsored by Rep. Thomas Conroy and Sen. Michael Barrett.

Launa Zimmaro, energy and resource conservation specialist for the Massachusetts League, noted in the written testimony that this is the first carbon tax proposed at the state level.

“As such, it promises to serve not only to reduce carbon emissions in Massachusetts, but as a model and catalyst for state, national and international action,” she wrote. “This groundbreaking legislation is significant not only for its environmental and symbolic value, but also for revenue generation for the Commonwealth – revenue that is needed to support the transition from a carbon-based energy system to a future of clean, renewable energy.”

“The relatively low cost of carbon based fuels encourages their use and stymies conservation and investment in clean, renewable energy development. H.2532 focuses on the demand side of the carbon equation by pricing carbon to reflect its true social cost, a cost that has been borne by, but hidden from, the public,” the League testimony stated.

Enacting a carbon tax would provide incentives to reduce use of carbon-based fuels, generate revenues for public transportation and clean-energy initiatives, and begin to address climate change issues, according to the testimony.

The bill contains provisions to offset the impact of the carbon tax on lower-income households.

For LWVMA testimony on this bill, click here.

League of Women Voters Supports Graduated Income Tax

4/10/2013 BOSTON—The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts sent testimony to the Joint Committee on Revenue in support of a proposed Constitutional amendment allowing for a graduated income tax in the state.

A hearing on the amendment legislation, S.17, was held by the Joint Committee on Revenue. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, with co-sponsors Rep. Peter V. Kocot and Rep. Jason M. Lewis.

The bill would amend the state Constitution to change the state income tax from a single flat rate to graduated rates, “so that higher rates are imposed on taxpayers in higher income brackets and lower rates on those in lower income brackets,” according to the text of the bill.

June Michaels, the state League’s specialist on fiscal policy, argued that a fixed rate income tax is regressive, with a higher burden on those least able to afford it.

“A graduated income tax would raise sufficient revenue, provide tax relief for lower and middle income families and allow for greater flexibility in our overall tax structure,” Michaels said.

As Massachusetts’ economy improves, the time is right to address the fairness of the income tax, a major source of the state’s budget, she said.

Under the proposed amendment, the legislature would be responsible for creating tax brackets and setting the tax rate scale.