Environment Politics

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is asking Gov. Matt Bevin to veto a bill that would remake the city’s solid waste management district.

Fischer, a Democrat, sent the Republican governor a letter on Wednesday.

“This bill effectively ends decades of consistent county-wide policies for managing and reducing solid waste in Louisville,” Fischer said in a news release. “We are asking Gov. Bevin to veto HB 246 and protect our current, more efficient approach to solid waste management.”

House Bill 246 passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly earlier this week. It would change the membership and powers of a little-known board called the 109 Board that oversees the county’s solid waste management.

The bill’s proponents — including bill sponsor Rep. Jerry Miller and Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf — say the measure will increase the 109 Board’s transparency. It will also give small cities (of which there are more than 80 in Jefferson County) representation on the board.

But the bill would also require the governing bodies of those small cities to sign off on any of the 109 Board’s rules before they go into effect in those areas. It would also block the 109 Board from charging any fees based on the composition of waste that complies with federal laws. Together, the bill’s opponents say that language would mean 109 Board rules like a ban on plastic bags for yard waste could be rendered moot.

They also say the bill would result in a patchwork of solid waste regulations across Jefferson County. All of the county’s garbage goes to one landfill, which is expected to be full in about 50 years.

In the letter, Fischer argues the bill is unconstitutional, and flies in the face of logic.

“The only justification articulated for the disparate treatment of the Louisville Metro Solid Waste Management District is that we are a consolidated government. This distinction makes no difference. Our 109 Board has been governing all municipalities within Jefferson County since its creation 25 years ago. It has always managed the combined city and county functions of solid waste management. Whether the district operates within a single county containing a merged government or in a district of combined counties (the Northern Kentucky Solid Waste Management Area is comprised of three counties which include multiple municipalities) makes no difference in the fulfillment of its stated statutory purpose.”

This bill is one of several considered by this year’s General Assembly that target Louisville-specific issues. One, awaiting Bevin’s signature, gives more power to Louisville’s Metro Council. Another to upend busing in Jefferson County Public Schools is likely dead.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Assignment Editor.