After Key Deadline, Two Bottle Bill Proposals Remain in Play

Two bottle bill proposals remain alive following a key statehouse deadline.  Most legislation that didn’t pass both subcommittee and committee by the Friday, March 8 “funnel” is “dead” for the remainder of session.  The main exceptions to this rule are bills dealing with taxes, spending or government oversight.

Now, lawmakers have two bottle bill measures left to consider.  Senate File 520 would allow grocery stores and other retailers to opt-out of redeeming cans and bottles by simply giving notice to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) effective July 1, 2020.  It would also increase the handling fee beer and soda distributors pay to redemption centers for processing deposit cans and bottles.  Currently set at a penny per container, SF 520 would double the handling fee to two cents.  This increase would take effect upon enactment.  SF 520 succeeded SF 59 originally introduced by Senator Mark Segebart (R-Vail).

The second bill was filed by Senate Ways & Means Committee Chair Randy Feenstra (R-Hull).  SSB 1225 is similar to Segebart’s bill, but there are some important differences.  This measure would allow grocery stores and other retailers to opt-out of redeeming cans and bottles if they’re located within ten miles of a redemption center or dealer agent, and they provide written notice to the DNR.  It would also double the handling fee to two cents, as proposed in SF 520.  Unlike Segebart’s bill, however, retailers would be responsible for paying the extra penny per container.  Finally, Feenstra’s measure would authorize retailers to outsource can and bottle redemption to a new, automated system created by the state’s beer distributors.  This “Droppett” program would allow consumers to leave their containers in special trailers and have their refunds deposited into an online account at a later date.

Another proposal that would have made large-scale changes to the bottle bill system did not survive funnel.  HF 181 would have expanded the five cent deposit to non-carbonated beverages, including water bottles, sports drinks, and bottled teas and coffees.  It would also have doubled the handling fee for redemption centers.  Two other House bills failed to clear the funnel deadline.  HSB 232 would have doubled the redemption center handling fee, and HF 412  would have allowed retailers to opt-out of can and bottle redemption.