The House of Delegates passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would void Fairfax and Loudoun counties' deposit laws covering soft drink containers and prohibit other Virginia localities from passing similar ordinances.
Loudoun's legislators, in the unusual debate they requested during the bill's third and final reading, pleaded with their colleagues to give the orinances a chance. But the bill passed by a decisive 70-to-26 margin.
The only snag came when the electric vote board broke down and would only record votes against the bill. "I think someone up there is trying to tell us something," one of the opponents, Del David G. Brickley (D-Loudoun) said.
The bill, which bill, which had stunned deposit advocates hoping to broaden the ordinances to cover beer containers and possibly even get a statewide law, was sponsored by Del. Thomas W. Moss (D-Norfolk). Moss said he "was doing a favor for (the people of) Fairfax," who are covered by a deposit law.
Moss said that as an attorney practicing in Norfolk he has represented restaurants seeking beer, wine and liquor licenses from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, and he frequently introduces ABC-type bills in the House General Laws Committee, which he chairs. But he said he does not represent soft drink bottlers or chain food stores, which have attacked the Fairfax and Loudoun ordinances and are fighting them in court.
Moss said he opposed the ordinances because they say "a Pepsi-Cola can is bad but a Budweiser can is okay." He said he would support state wide legislation that would require deposits on both beer and soft drink containers.
There are two bills in Senate committees that would require deposits on both soft drink and beer containers - controls that are already in effect in Oregon and Vermont and are being considered in other states.
The pupose of all such measures is to clean up or at least reduce roadside litter. According to a recent Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation survey, about 10 per cent of litter was caused by soft drink containers and about 39 per cent by beer containers.
While the bills in the Virginia Senate have picked up rurals as well as urban support - farmers have complained about Punctured tractor wheels and the Virginia Farm Bureau supports such legislation - their critics say the state's new Little Control Act should be given a chance. The Litter Control Commission created by the act has an educational campaign that only recently got under way.