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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 13, 2017 03:05 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank and Sen. Patrick M. Browne
To: All Senate members
Subject: Municipal recycling
We will soon re-introduce SB 1041, legislation from the 2015-2016 session to remove questions and restore stability to funding for municipal recycling programs.
Act 101 in 1988 (the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Law) successfully launched recycling in the Commonwealth. Today, 94 percent of Pennsylvania residents have access to either mandatory or voluntary municipal programs, and in 2014 we recycled more than 16.8 million tons of waste. However, an unfortunate 2013 Commonwealth Court ruling concluded that Act 101 restricts funding sources for mandated municipal programs to state grants and the proceeds from municipalities' own sales of recyclables, but then construed parallel provisions for municipal government powers to allow some classes of municipalities to use a local fee to support recycling and to disallow a fee to other classes.
While the ruling was subsequently voided because the court lacked jurisdiction, the underlying opinion has created concerns that many municipalities, especially home-rule communities, could lose a revenue stream they have relied on for decades to recycle without using general tax revenue. Further reinforcing the opinion's risk to three decades of progress, Act 101 also excuses municipalities from recycling mandates entirely when the court-identified funding streams are inadequate.
Our legislation will avoid these risks simply by recognizing and validating the reality that has existed since the enactment of Act 101, clarifying that any municipality may collect a local fee for mandated recycling regardless of its form of government. We hope you will join this effort.

Introduced as SB824