Veto Override Falls Short in Senate

Popular legislation to modernize the Bottle Bill will have to wait another year.

The Vermont state Senate fell short today in its attempt to override the governor’s veto of popular legislation that would have modernized the state’s 52-year-old Bottle Bill program. Seventeen senators voted to override and twenty were required in order to achieve the two-thirds necessary for the override to succeed. The House successfully overrode the veto several weeks ago with 78 percent of representatives voting in favor.

As a leading proponent of this legislation, we are disappointed with the outcome, but determined to move forward.

VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns offered the following statement:

“Overall, 72 percent of legislators (129 out of 180) voted to override the governor’s veto. More than 8 in 10 Vermonters favor the reforms in this legislation. But it still wasn’t enough. We fell short of the two-thirds we needed in the Senate today and that’s a real disappointment.

It’s a disappointment because this legislation would have increased recycling, reduced pollution, eased the burden on small businesses, and made redemption faster and more convenient for consumers all across the state.

The Bottle Bill is the best recycling program the state has ever known. More than ten billion containers have been recycled through the Bottle Bill over the past 50 years, but it hasn’t been significantly updated in decades. It needs the kind of improvements that nearly every other state with a similar redemption program has already passed.

Those senators who chose not to override the veto today did no favors for their constituents. They did nothing to reduce air, water, or climate pollution. They just voted to continue to make life unnecessarily difficult for small businesses and redemption centers, some of which are literally struggling to survive.

But none of the senators voting today is irredeemable. We have work to do to overcome the mountain of misinformation put out by waste and beverage industry opponents. But we’ll get there.

Ten years ago, in 2014, we celebrated the fact that we got seven votes on the floor of the Senate in favor of a proposal to add more containers to the Bottle Bill program. Seven votes in favor marked progress then, and ten years later we came within a bottle cap of having this more comprehensive bill become law.

The vote today was more of a delay than a defeat. There is no question we’re on the right trajectory and we will eventually win. Vermonters want it. Businesses need it. Our environment requires it. We’ll be back.”

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