The Indiana House of Representatives has voted down a bill that would have quadrupled the state's scrap tire fee in an effort to clean up Indiana's 6 million remaining stockpiled scrap tires.
Rep. David Wolkins, R-18th District, sponsor of House Bill 1381, still hopes to get it through the legislature before the April 29 adjournment. The state's tire dealers, however, oppose the measure, fearing it could turn into a major boondoggle on Indiana taxpayers and tire recyclers alike.
The bill would require an increase in the fee charged on each new tire sold in Indiana, to $1 from 25 cents. According to the bill's language, 80 percent of the funds generated by the fee would be deposited in the state's waste tire assistance fund, and the remainder would go to the waste tire management fund.
Funds would go to incentive payments to waste tire processors and recyclers, as well as reimbursements to municipalities and solid waste management districts for waste tire collection days. The bill would expand the fee to tires mounted on semi-trailers and farm equipment and allow for the fee to end on July 1, 2010.
House Bill 1381 fell victim, as did a number of other bills, to a walkout by Democratic legislators, according to a staff person for Mr. Wolkins.
``We're hoping we can add the language to a Senate bill, but right now the bill is dead,'' she said. The walkout was unrelated to the content of House Bill 1381, she added.
The bill's failure suits the Illinois/Indiana Tire Dealers Association just fine. ``We're not opposed to a $1 fee for proper tire disposal and development of new technologies for scrap tire recycling,'' said John F. Buettner Sr., IITDA executive director. ``But until they can provide us with a clear picture of where the money will be directed, we see no need to increase the fee.''
Indiana has collected the 25-cent fee on tires since 1994. Because of this fee, there is already a $4.6 million surplus in the state's waste tire fund, Mr. Buettner pointed out.
Furthermore, the IITDA is nervous about House Bill 1381 because of what happened in Illinois. In that state, the legislature increased the fee on new tires from $1 to $2.50, only to decide in January 2004 to divert that money from the waste tire fund to the general fund.
``It turned out to be just a back-door tax on the people of Illinois,'' Mr. Buettner said.
House Bill 1381 would not only quadruple the tire fee, but also make the Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles the collecting agent rather than the state's tire dealers. Mr. Wolkins' staff person said tire dealers have been inconsistent in collecting the current fee.
``We have no way of knowing whether that's true, because they don't give us that data,'' Mr. Buettner said regarding the staff person's claim. ``But a $4.6 million surplus indicates to us that the current system is working, at least as a method of generating funds.''