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Tougher penalties for litterbugs: Tom Mehaffie

Posted 9/5/18

Take a quick drive down one of our local highways and it’s clear that fines alone are not enough to deter people from littering. From cigarette butts to old electronics and tires, our …

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Tougher penalties for litterbugs: Tom Mehaffie

Posted

Take a quick drive down one of our local highways and it’s clear that fines alone are not enough to deter people from littering. From cigarette butts to old electronics and tires, our roadsides, sidewalks, parks, waterways and open spaces are full of examples of environmental apathy.

Cleaning up after careless litterbugs and illegal dumpers can be costly and bad for the environment. In fact, PennDOT spends upward of $10 million cleaning up roadside litter every year. It costs approximately $600 per ton to clean up an illegal dumpsite. Furthermore, an abundance of trash becomes an eyesore in our local communities, hindering economic development and even attracting more crime.

At the state level, a new law aims to bring some teeth to our littering laws for the first time. With the goal of bringing the penalties for littering in line with the crime, Act 62 would require offenders to spend time cleaning up trash.

Specifically, the new law requires that for a first offense of scattering rubbish, a person is required to pick up litter or illegally dumped trash for between five and 30 hours within six months, in addition to the existing fine of $50 to $300.

For a second or subsequent offense, the offender may also be required to pick up litter or illegally dumped trash for 30 to 100 hours over one year, in addition to the existing fine of $300 to $1,000. Existing fines are doubled when committed in a litter enforcement corridor and tripled for litter that originated from a commercial business within a litter enforcement corridor.

In the name of safety, Act 62 also requires that a vehicle must yield the right-of-way to any authorized vehicle or pedestrian engaged in work upon a highway within a litter enforcement corridor.

While this new law won’t eliminate all instances of littering and illegal dumping in our communities, it’s my hope the tougher penalties will make potential litterers think twice about throwing their trash out the window or dumping it along the roadways. For the sake of our economy, our environment and our future, we must do everything we can to keep Pennsylvania beautiful.

State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara Township, represents the 106th House District. Reach him at 717-534-1323 or tmehaffie@pahousegop.com.