A large group gathered on the steps of the Secretary of State’s office on July 2 to announce completion of an initiative petition signature drive to update the state’s bottle bill. Proponents delivered over 19,000 signatures to Secretary Galvin’s office. A sufficient number of signatures were validated by Secretary Galvin, and the measure has been certified to appear before the voters on November 4. If passed, the ballot question would extend the current nickel deposit on soda and beer to other single serving containers like water, juices, and sports drinks. Click here for a list and summary of the final four ballot questions.
LWVMA is a member of the coalition of groups working for the Updated Bottle Bill and contributed over 4,400 signatures.
An update to the bottle bill has been pending in the state legislature for over 12 years; the original version passed in 1983, before the popularity of bottled water and tea. Although enough legislators support the update to make it law, it has never been brought to a vote in the House, despite passing the Senate during the last two legislative sessions. Opponents to the bill have largely been big business interests include bottlers and supermarkets.
Diverse groups across the state have gathered the needed signatures to put the measure before the voters — over 130,000 signatures in September, nearly double the number needed, and more than the other proposed ballot measures. Signatures came from every one of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, and hundreds of volunteers participated. In May of this year, supporters gathered 27,000 more signatures. In addition to LWVMA, other organizations collecting signatures were MASSPIRG, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Milton Garden Club, the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Sierra Club.
Advocates are bracing for a tough ballot question campaign. Under state law, bottlers and supermarkets can pour unlimited corporate funds into opposing the ballot initiative.
If the bottle bill wins in November, Massachusetts would catch up with Maine, Connecticut, New York, Hawaii, California, and Oregon, all of which have added more types of containers to their deposit laws over the past several years.