Thursday, June 02, 2005

Maryland and the Craziness that is Lawmaking

Maryland is a unique and bassackwards state when it comes to laws and law making. They've several draconian and moot laws from colonial times still on the books, and the law making bodies continue to promulgate unconstitutional laws (almost as fast as they can be struck down). I know this because I went to law school there, and we had to learn about contributory negligence, brothel laws (no more than two women can live in the same structure!) etc.

I have to say, while the do get SOMETHINGS right, it is not their fault, entirely. Most of the law making body in Maryland is teachers, doctors, police officers, and parents. There are few lawyers in the system. In fact, there is a good argument that the process is difficient of lawyers, as evidenced by the common passing of unconsitutional and unbelievably stupid laws. Not only that, but the Governor, the first Republican governor in 60 years, has to read and sign the laws, and does. No offense, but the checks and balances aren't working so well, maybe it's time to get a legislative body who has the know how, or a governor who can read. You think?

The most recent episode is the Computer Recycling Fee assessed for the recycling of electronic waste. Somehow I don't think the purpose of this law will ever meet its goal. For one, there is no requirement or, as far as I'm aware, place to recycle electronic waste. This is evidenced by the law itself, requiring computer makers to higher someone to recylce, recycle themselves, OR JUST PAY A FEE. Mother father, how this one's missed the target. Did occur to the legislators that it is EXPENSIVE to build an electronics recycling plant or center, and that shipping and transport is that much more expensive given the density of the products and the fragile nature of the reusable parts? Oh, I think not. I can predict what will happen, the computer companies pay out, pass the cost on to customers, and then the waste piles up anyways. SO, legislators of Maryland, you've made electronics more expensive, you've given no proposal for means of recycling, and therefore will end up with more expensive piles of electronic waste. Not to mention the close proximity of most MD residence to other states, can we say barrier to competition? WTF were you thinking!

Interestingly, there is a registration process for those who manufacture computers and monitors. This means that the companies have to register. So what if a company does not register? Is there a means to stop their selling computers without registration? Registration costs $5000 upfront, for back-dated expenses. I'm pretty sure that is illegal as stated. The intent is to expand the electronics to include TV's as well. I don't know. I'm still trying to get my hands on the bill. When I do I will post it here, with commentary.

While the recycling measure was paved with good intentions, the road to disaster seems apparent without a recycling option available to the State. I doubt a contractor will recylce 60,000+ tons of electronics for the estimated 200K - 400K the state will raise in Jan. Good luck with that, dumbasses.

UPDATE: Interesting. According to other articles, MD produces 150,000 tons of electronic waste each year. For the State Program Look Here.

I also want to emphasize that I am all about the computer recycling, but not to the burden of the people without ACTUAL recycling occuring. I've found little or no evidence that computer recycling occurs (often) in MD. There are a few options, but they are also limited to the residents of the county. SO, you must go to your country recycling center, regardless of your location. This is a trait of MD, the obsession with counties, and it's stupid, inefficient, and drives apathy akin to a total deterant. They could have created some jobs for the transportation of products, and dispersed some of the colletion centers to better locations. It's kind of like the legislators went recycling light to avoid costs that initial projects require. For some government propaganda go here.

CLICK HERE for a copy of House Bill 575, the THIRD READING, passed into law by the legislation. some things you should notice
Page 6, Line 28, groups the computer recycling in with the newspaper and telephone recycling programs. Knowing that neither of these seem well established, in any county in MD, except maybe Montgomery (rich county), this looks like a pillage-bill that will either allow LOTS of recycling of one type of product or a really big trust fund created for some future project.

Page 7, line 22, starts the recycling program.

Page 8, lines 11-13 irk me to no end, "and each year after ... report on implementation." Once implemented it's done, right?

Page 8, lines 14-19 the total weight, the total number of computers and the method of recycling recieved from Maryland. This is a bit confusing. I think they mean coming out of the state of Maryland, i.e. from consumers, but it is unclear. Does this require out-of-state companies to expend additional funds on monitoring Maryland transactions? Is this an undue burden not placed on a Maryland firm, since the Maryland firm will assume anything recieved in Maryland is from Maryland? Interesting, and irritating. The State should do it's own reports, or have an independent do it. At least it doesn't say 'exact' in the bill.

Page 8, lines 18-19 requiring a report of how the stuff is disposed of. I'm not sure that it is relevant at that point. Given how poorly it is written, I'd guess that the companies will use a general statement, since the 'report' does not require an itemized disposal report.

Page 8, lines 30, 33 so you pay $5000 up front. If you have a recycling program you page $500 each year after. If you don't have a recycling program you pay $5000. I have to wonder, 150,000 tons of electronics over MAYBE 200 companies (assume even distribution and returns, ha, right). That's 750 tons of materials per company. Let's just be outlandish and say that it costs $5 to refurbish or recycle a ton. that's a total cost of $750,000 per year, over 200 companies is about $3750 per company. Add in the fact that returns must be free, I'd guess a ton of shipped material is pretty expensive, let's say $50 (again outlandish) so let's redo the calculus for total participation: $7,500,000 for shipping alone and 750,000 for recycling and the fee for registration = $8,350,000 divided among 200 (again, we are talking Endor here) = $41,750 per company. No offense, but what monkeys did they have doing their maths for them!!! No company is going to pay that when they can pay the fraction at $5000 a year.

Page 9, lines 7-9 the punishments? So if a company is unregistered nothing seems to happen other than they can't 'sell or offer for sale' their product in Maryland, so you move across the border, big deal. If a registrant is insufficient in their attempts at compliance they get a letter. That's right, an OFFICIAL letter from the department, requesting explanations of dificiencies noted by the Department. There are penalties or something right?

Page 9, lines 10 - 12 okay NOW we have some punishments right? Actually, the company just has to respond within 60 days with an explanation of the dificiencies. You aren't serious are you? I mean, no penalties? No fines? No suspension sales? Not only are there no monetary penalties, but there is only the requirement to give REASONS for your deficiencies, you don't even have to fix them!!! WTF. This is a terribly useless Bill. I'd expect some sort of modification around year 2, because let's be frank, this bill looks like it was written to just be on the books, it doesn't really do much except make contributions to the Environmental trust and make more expensive computer waste that will probably still end up in land fills since there is no incentive for the consumer.

I'm so disappointed, but not surprised.


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