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We must defeat bill H. 3290

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Steve Willis Larry McCullough

The General Assembly is considering legislation which intentionally damages the fiscal and societal well-being of the citizens of South Carolina. The bill, couched under the clever title “the business freedom to choose act,” is in fact special interest legislation at its rankest.

H. 3290 prohibits any ordinance which “directs the flow of waste.” This prohibition applies whether the ordinance is a simple hauling franchise, a contract to dispose of waste from the county in a joint landfill, or otherwise states that solid waste will be disposed of in a particular landfill.

H. 3290 cripples public landfills, which is why the legislation is on its face an environmental disaster. Private landfills accept 96 percent of all out-of-state waste brought into this state. Less apparent, but perhaps more troubling, is the economic damage H. 3290 wreaks.

The real intent of this legislation is obvious. Republic Services and Waste Management Corp. wants to financially starve public landfills out of business.

The current economic viability of waste facilities depends on ordinances which direct the flow of waste to a financed facility.

These large waste companies, who own both the waste hauling routes and the landfills, will bypass public landfills for their own, even at a short term loss, to bankrupt the public facilities.

After eliminating a county’s ability to finance a public facility though this model, the remaining options for any public landfill are limited to raising taxes, closing the facility, or selling out to a private purchaser. In most cases, the likely recourse will be to sell to those same waste companies.

Buying up the public landfills allows Republic Services and Waste Management Corp. to do several things, all of which are good for their bottom line, but bad for the taxpayers of South Carolina.

Landfill control allows these corporations to drive local waste haulers out of the market through increased tipping fees at landfills, which account for 35 percent of collection companies’ operating costs. Then, without competition on the collection side of the business, the largest companies are able to increase collection and disposal prices for their customers, the taxpayers of this state.

Additionally, it allows them to accept more lucrative out-of-state waste, which, after control is wrestled from the public and put into the hands of these corporations, cannot be legally prevented. The people can tell public landfills not to accept this waste, they have no rights in regards to dumping out-of-state waste at a private landfill.

All of this is why proponents of this legislation are right about one thing, this legislation is indeed about a monopoly, but not the “government monopolies” and the “business freedom to choose” about which they wail and cry.

H. 3290 is about giving total control of solid waste in this state to a few giant companies. The proposal is nothing but a loser for the people of South Carolina.

The legislation contemplates running small local businesses out of the market place, increasing fees on taxpayers, and wrestling control over waste shipped into our state away from the people.

Perhaps the supporters of this legislation favor businesses’ freedom to choose, but we, and the people of Lancaster, remain more interested the people’s freedom to choose. Join us in demanding the legislature defeat this bill.

Steve Willis is

administrator

for Lancaster County. Larry McCullough

is chairman of Lancaster County Council.