Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Jim and I drove to Jefferson City today for discussion of a new Senate bill which deals with diverting additional waste from the landfills. The Senate hearing room was packed to the max, with every chair being occupied. I guess no one got the memo about energy conservation because it must have been 90 degrees in the room. That's actually pretty ironic since the Department of Natural Resources was represented in the room. The committee shook up the agenda a bit and allowed the reading of a bill which would bar telemarketers from calling cell phones, using computer generated recordings and sending unsolicited faxes. Apparently the sponsoring Senator's constituents were very annoyed during the last election (who wasn't?) by the number of computerized phone calls they received soliciting votes for him. He claimed he was unaware that these calls were being made. Yeah...and I've got a nice bridge to sell you, too. Anyway, supporters were invited to speak, and two women did so. One was from the Attorney General's office, and the other drug her oxygen tank up to the front speaking on behalf of AARP. That's what she said. No naysayers wanted to speak, so they went on to the next bill. Which was one that would bar telemarketers from calling cell phones, yadda, yadda, yadda. No, I did not type the same thing twice. Same bill, different Senator, same two supporters. And you wonder why nothing much gets done. Couldn't these two Senators agree long enough to come up with one bill? I didn't get a chance to see if they were from different parties. Next came the bill we had come to support. Missouri put a ban on yard waste going into landfills back in 1991. At the same time it was recommended that by 1998 the state divert 40% of the waste from the landfills. This was not a mandate, merely a suggested goal with incremental increases every few years after that. The state has met this goal, mostly because yard waste did take up a lot of space in landfills. The new bill is simply picking up the pace of the diversion rates. Unfortunately the Senator who sponsored the bill was not a good speaker, did not have his facts in order, and then proceeded to add a lot of additional hot air to the room. One of our competitors, who actually pushed for this bill, spoke as a supporter. He did a great job, listing statistics on the yard waste/composting industry in particular and the number of new jobs created in the state from the ban on yard waste, and the importance of the products being produced. A retired waste hauler turned recycling consultant also did a fine job of illustrating how many households now recycle and the market for recycled materials. Then the opponent wanted to talk. Except he said he only wanted to present "Information". The Chair of the committee said no information, you are either for it or you are against it. Wow, something in black or white - how refreshing. Benedict Arnold (I mean being against recycling is like taking on motherhood and apple pie) then proclaimed himself as being against it. Finally - the truth. Benedict struggled with his multiple pages of notes, and I don't think I have ever heard anyone use the word "ummm" so many times in one talk. This guy was all over the place. From stating that the compost facilities only take the yard waste in and then don't do anything with it (gee, that was news to me, I guess I'll have to ask my guys why I am paying for so much fuel each month) to stating that we need to stop shipping all of our trash overseas, I couldn't follow what he was getting at. He made a vague point about the fact that if the yard waste went into landfills then they could tap into the methane gas, and this is really where his lobbying efforts are aimed. One particular trash hauler whom he represents doesn't want to pay the tipping fees for getting rid of its yard waste, but instead wants to resume burying it in the landfill which it owns. Despite the heat in the room, Benedict kept spewing his garbage and then finally, after shuffling through his papers, he found his concluding sentence. The Senators fortunately had no questions for him. I think they were all as perplexed as me. For now, this will sit in committee. "I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill..."