February 17, 2010
Lawmakers look to cigs, bottles for revenue
Lawmakers want to crack down on companies that are not complying with the state's bottle bill law, a move that could pump millions of dollars into the state coffers.
Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, is sponsoring emergency legislation for Gov. John Baldacci this session, which would authorize the Department of Agriculture to ban the sale of all products of a company in the state that is not compliance, according to Capitol News Service. Martin said the bill is needed because under current law, the Maine Revenue Services Department cannot disclose which companies are not in compliance. Last year, state officials were surprised when they got a check from a company for unredeemed bottle deposits of nearly $1 million, which is nearly as much as is usually collected in a year. The amount of money the legislation would bring to the state is unknown until the law passes, Martin told the news service.
In related news, the state is also mulling a $1 sales tax hike on cigarette packs to combat a recent spike in youth smoking rates and generate $26.6 million annually in state revenues, according to the Bangor Daily News. But Baldacci has opposed the proposal, saying it's not "a viable solution for balancing the budget," according to a spokesman.