Senate Ways & Means Committee to Consider Bottle Bill Proposals

Lawmakers are shifting their attention toward taxes, spending and floor debate following the first legislative funnel.  Most bills that didn’t pass committee in the House or Senate by last Friday are now “dead” for the rest of session.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering the two surviving bottle bill proposals.  Bills in that committee are exempt from funnel deadlines.

SSB 1225, sponsored by Ways & Means Committee Chair Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) is the more sweeping of the two measures.  Beginning this July, it would double the handling fee paid to redemption centers from one cent per container to two cents.  As in the current system, distributors would be responsible for paying the first penny.  Grocery stores and other retailers would have to pay the second cent.  In exchange, they could opt-out of redeeming cans and bottles beginning July 1, 2020.  All they would need to do is give notice to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The measure would also allow retailers to contract with a proprietary third-party system created by Iowa’s beer distributors. “Droppett” is an automated system that allows consumers to return cans and bottles to special locations and have their refunds deposited in an online account at a later date.

Senate Natural Resources Committee Chair Mark Segebart (R-Vail) put forward the other bottle bill proposal, SF 520.  The measure would also allow retailers to opt-out of redeeming containers, and increase the handling fee to two cents.  The second penny, however, would also come from beverage distributors.  The bill already cleared the first funnel by passing out of the Natural Resources Committee.  But because it deals directly with fees, it must pass the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee before being eligible for floor debate.