Legislation gets tough with litterbugs

| Monday, March 20, 2006

Two Midwestern states are pursuing legislation that would get tough with litterbugs.

An Iowa Senate panel has approved a bill that would double the fines for littering along the state’s roads and in state parks.

The Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee voted March 2 to advance a bill that would prohibit illegally discarding 14 solid wastes. The bill – SF2319 – now heads to the Senate.

Supporters say current fines are too low to be a deterrent and too low to make police focus on anti-littering enforcement.

The bill would increase the fine for littering along highways from $35 to $70. The penalty for littering in state parks would increase from $15 to $30.

In addition, illegal dumping of garbage would net offenders a $1,000 fine – up from $500.

Half of the revenue generated would be routed to the Iowa Department of Transportation for cleanup of litter and illegal dumping. The remaining portion would go to the Department of Natural Resources.

In Illinois, people caught littering on the state’s roads might be forced to adopt it and clean it up.

Existing state law allows that anyone caught in the act of throwing out trash can be fined up to $500. But a bill in the House would allow judges to sentence litterbugs to 30 days of picking up refuse on the stretch of road they trashed or a nearby location.

Supporters say it’s a textbook case of the punishment fitting the crime.

The bill – HB4451 – won unanimous approval in the House March 1. It has been forwarded to the Senate for further consideration.

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