New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has killed two pieces of recycling-oriented legislation – one focused on updating the state’s struggling e-scrap program and another creating a paint stewardship program.
Christie exercised a pocket veto of Senate Bill 1420, which aimed to require paint producers to oversee collections and recycling of architectural paint. The program would have been funded by fees passed down to consumers purchasing paint.
The veto surprised the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) because it had the support of the paint producers, said Marie Kruzan, group executive director. The result is local governments will have to continue paying to collect and handle the material.
“That one surprised us,” she told Resource Recycling. “I thought with the industry behind it, it would get done.”
Christie also vetoed a bill making changes to the state’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) program for e-scrap. That bill, also supported by ANJR, changed the way manufacturers’ recycling obligations are calculated to base them on the weight of material actually collected each year. It also added computer printers and fax machines to the list of covered electronics.
New Jersey, like some others states with e-scrap EPR laws, has seen local governments lose e-scrap collection capabilities after manufacturers hit their recycling targets before the end of the year and stopped paying recycling companies to handle material. Those cities and counties are then often faced with halting collections or using public funds to recycle material.
The vetoed paint legislation mirrored laws in eight other states and the District of Columbia. In those jurisdictions, PaintCare, a stewardship group established by the American Coatings Association (ACA), oversees collections and recycling. New Jersey would have been the second-most-populous state to have a paint stewardship program, after California.
The legislation would have required PaintCare to establish a collection site within 15 miles of 90 percent of the state’s residents, with at least one permanent collection site established for every 30,000 residents of a city.
“ACA believes that this would be critical in New Jersey, where only five of the 21 counties even accept latex paint for recycling and proper disposal – latex paint being 80 percent of the paint sold today,” according to an ACA press release. “Those few counties that do accept latex paint do so at a great cost. For example, Ocean County reported spending over $200,000 on their paint management program in 2013 alone.”
According to a recent report by the Product Stewardship Institute, paint stewardship programs boost paint recycling rates and reduce local governments’ hazardous waste management costs.
The retail sector, however, strongly opposed the bill. A spokesman for the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association told NJBiz.com the bill would impose a tax that would be hidden from consumers because it wouldn’t be listed on sales receipts. Additionally, because the fee would be funded via an assessment at the wholesale level for each can of paint a retailer purchases, the retailers wouldn’t be able to recoup those funds on unsold paint, he noted.
The Senate in May 2015 voted 26-7 to approve the bill, and the Assembly voted 46-27 to approve the bill on Jan. 11. It was one of more than 60 bills Christie vetoed from the lame-duck legislature (a legislative period in which outgoing lawmakers pass bills quickly before newly elected legislators take office).
Because it was passed within 10 days of the end of the legislative session, Christie was able to pocket veto it by taking no action on it. The bill will not return to the Legislature for a possible vote to override it.
“Having the Legislature pass more than 100 bills in such a hasty and scrambled way, praying for them to be rubber stamped, is never a good formula for effectively doing public business,” said Joelle Farrell, Christie’s deputy press secretary.
Farrell said the governor’s office is not commenting on why Christie vetoed specific bills.
Christie has spent less time in New Jersey conducting government business, as a result of his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, according to The New York Times. The paint bill was vetoed during a one-day visit back to New Jersey sandwiched between campaign stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, the newspaper reported.