So I finally got to meet my new BFF, Marge today! Marge has spearheaded the bottle bill movement for years and I am so excited to work with her. Today we talked about why the bottle bill hasn’t passed, what we can do to help, and what you can do to help.
Most important thing I learned today is that the public does matter. Since this bill is voted on by committee, I assumed local opinions had no input. Although we can’t vote on it or campaign in the obvious sense of the word – we can influence. If the majority of the residents are for a bill, the committee is so much more likely to stick their necks out and vote for the bill all in the effort to keep their districts happy. So in that vein, I am so excited to start a conversation with too many strangers to get the word out that it’s not weird to want to get paid for drinking beer and soda.
I’m also happy that she explained how a bill gets passed. No offense to Schoolhouse Rock – but I needed a more detailed explanation, more focused on this exact issue. So for those of you who were like me and can’t understand why in the world people would vote no on recycling, here’s how and why.
First, the general assembly (cool kids voting on this bill) only meets once a year, for only five months or so. So you have to have your bill ready and all your ducks in a row because once those few months happen, they happen quickly. Next you have to find a superhero to file the bill. Our superhero is Jim Coley, shout out to Jim and his badassness. Once Jim files the bill, it gets assigned to a committee. Our bottle bill is assigned to the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee.
Now you need to legally lobby all the members of the committee together and make them see why the bottle bill is super awesome. You get a fiscal note and prove that the bottle bill not only saves the state money, but creates jobs and actually makes the state money, rather than paying to have trash put in a pile. Then badass Jim Coley puts our bill on the calendar so we can schedule a hearing. But you only want to schedule a hearing if you have already taken your own tally of the committee votes. Because once in the hearing, you don’t want your ass to be handed to you. No one wants a reenactment of that time you forgot the words to Smash Mouth’s “Allstar” and the 5th grade talent show. You need to know what you’re doing.
Since there are two chambers of the Legislative branch of government, House and Senate, there are two committees you have to have a hearing with. So you pick whichever one you have the most alliances with. In order to even vote on the bill, Jim has to find the Robin to his Batman to second his motion. So once the hearing date happens, you cross your fingers they have enough time to get to it, have Batman propose the bill to the docket, have Robin second the motion – THEN you can actually vote on it. Once it passes in one committee is then handed over to either the House or Senate committee. (Whichever one you haven’t had a hearing with yet.)
After that, you’re pretty much golden, Ponyboy. Most people agree once the bottle bill gets past the committee stage, it will go all the way. Just like Regina and Shane Oman. Now that I have a bit of knowledge, my new bestie Marge, and the understanding that the public can make a difference – I’m going ahead full steam. So get in loser, we’re going shopping! (clearly for like, organic veggies and some Jackalope Thunder Ann, and then obviously throwing those cans in our blue recycle bin that only gets picked up once a month.)