Citing support from the Senate and Gov. Deval Patrick, more than a dozen House members rallied in front of the State House Wednesday, calling on the House to agree to a proposal that its leaders have derisively labeled an untenable tax on consumers.
Following the rally, an old-fashioned street debate ensued over the issue, with supporter Jimmy Tingle inching in on reporters interviewing opponent Chris Flynn, president of the Massachusetts Food Association. Rep. Richard Bastien, also an opponent of the bottle law update, joined in the debate.
Rep. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge), the bill's chief supporter in the House, said the political dynamics of the debate have changed with one week to go in the session.
"The difference now is the Senate has passed the bottle bill," Wolf said. Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan joined the ralliers, predicting the bill's passage would "double the recycling" and letting them know Gov. Deval Patrick supports the bill.
"Get a bill to his desk. He will sign the bottle bill. Governor Patrick is with you."
The proposal's fate lies with a six-member conference committee helmed in the House by Rep. Joseph Wagner, who reiterated to the News Service Tuesday that he believes the proposal represents a tax.
Among the representatives who attended the rally were Gloria Fox, Kay Khan, Jonathan Hecht, Tim Madden, Martha Walz, Ruth Balser, Chris Walsh, Carl Sciortino, Frank Smizik, Denise Provost, Thomas Sannicandro, Rhonda Nyman, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Sarah Peake, and James Cantwell.
Before Sullivan proclaimed "it's time" for the bill to pass, Tingle offered, "This bill has been in committee for 14 years. The Big Dig only took 12 years."