The Missouri General Assembly has adjourned without reinstating the state's scrap tire fee, a move creating various levels of concern inside Missouri and in the tire recycling community.
The fee of 50 cents per tire for every new tire sold in the state had been in place since 1990. It lapsed Jan. 1, 2004, after the assembly failed to renew it during its 2003 session. It adjourned its 2004 session May 14 without approving any of the 10 different bills that would have reinstated the fee.
A last-minute filibuster prevented passage of the furthest advanced of the bills in the state Senate, according to Dave Overfelt, legislative consultant to the Missouri Tire Industry Association.
``If they'd had a few more hours, they probably would have passed it,'' Overfelt said. But the senators who opposed the bill saw it as pork-barrel legislation to benefit certain tire recyclers in the state, he added. He said the MTIA was neutral on the issue.
Meanwhile, the scrap tire program within the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has been dismantled, according to Beth Marsala, an enforcement section chief within the MDNR's Solid Waste Program.
``There's a little over $2 million in the scrap tire fund, and all of it is obligated for cleanups,'' Marsala said. ``We have 2.5 million tires out there we won't be able to get to, and probably more we don't know about. The whole infrastructure is starting to crumble.''
According to a fact sheet on the MDNR Web site, the scrap tire fee financed the collection, disposal and/or recycling of more than 12 million scrap tires in Missouri, as well as funding the proper management of the 5 million waste tires the state generates annually.
Through the scrap tire fund, the state reimbursed non-profit organizations for their scrap tire cleanup efforts, and gave 259 grants worth $1.3 million to communities to buy recycled rubber surfacing for playgrounds. These programs are now dead, Marsala said, as are enforcement efforts for the state's scrap tire laws.