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Medical waste bill moves forward

The medical waste bill described here yesterday was approved by the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, on a 7-4 vote.

Voting for the bill were Representatives Ginaitt, Gallison, Malik, McNamara, Sullivan, Vaudreuil, and Walsh. Reps. Story, Ehrhardt, Segal, and Handy voted in opposition.

Matt Auten of Environment Rhode Island calls the bill "a sweetheart deal for processors of out-of-state medical waste, but it's bad for the environment and consumers. As a result, we are urging the General Assembly to reject this legislation."

Auten says the bill is expected to face a contested vote in the House. A very similar bill was voted down, 35-33, two years ago on the House floor. The Senate last year approved a similar bill, although the outlook in that chamber remains unclear. Considering opposition from DEM, Resource Recovery, and Statewide Planning (Auten says the AG's offiice is also opposed), a gubernatorial veto seems reasonably likely should the measure advance, although it's hard to know if the General Assembly would pursue an overrride.

Stericycle, the Woonsocket-based company with perhaps the most to gain from this bill, has its corporate headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois.

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