A scheduled House vote on a bill that would create a universal recycling program in Delaware was postponed Thursday. Republicans are demanding more time to review information and more respect.
Once again, House Republicans in Dover feel they are being ignored. And they’re getting “sick of it.”
“We want to be participants in this process, not spectators,” said House Minority Leader Richard Cathcart (R-Middletown). “So far we’ve been spectators and we’re sick and tired of it.”
Cathcart’s comments came Thursday evening at Legislative Hall after Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, denied a request by the Republican caucus for more time to study the recycling bill, which was scheduled for a vote in the House earlier in the day.
The bill would establish a curbside recycling program for all Delawareans and eliminate the “Bottle Bill” deposit program. The measure easily passed the Senate last week.
But now the House vote will take place next Tuesday after the 17-member GOP caucus agreed to oppose the legislation if it were brought up Thursday. That would have left Democrats one vote short of the three-fifths majority the bill requires.
“I told the governor that our intent was not to defeat the bill,” Cathcart said. “Our intent was to delay it so we could get that input back.”
Cathcart said two members of his caucus simply needed more time to gather more information on the bill, though he wouldn’t say what that information was.
“We don’t understand what the sense of urgency is,” he said. “Except to jam it down our throats. That’s the only conclusion we could come to: ‘Let’s stick it to them one more time.'”
Cathcart is referring to the end of last year’s session when Republicans felt the majority party was not considering their input. That’s when the GOP caucus voted as a group to ultimately get certain legislation amended.
But Cathcart insists that’s not the intention this time around.
“We asked for nothing other than time, nothing,” he said. “And we could have played that game. We could have gone to the governor and said ‘you’re not getting the recycling bill unless you get X,Y and Z.’ We didn’t play that game.”
When asked why he denied the Republicans’ request, Markell said “the issue’s been hanging out there long enough.”
And he deflected Cathcart’s claims that the recycling bill — and the entire legislative session — has become a partisan issue.
“I actually think that this has been a very cooperative process,” Markell said. “We’ve had a good working effort over a several-month period.”
The bill provides start-up money for the recycling program by converting the current 5-cent deposit on beer and soda containers to a 4-cent fee. It calls for statewide curbside recycling for residential homes by September 2011, for multifamily housing by 2013, and for commercial businesses by 2014.
Currently recycling in Delaware is mostly voluntary. Residents can pay a fee to have their trash hauler recycle material or they can go to a centralized recycling center to take their recycling material.