NSWMA Challenges Wisconsin Tipping Fee

Madison, Wis. -- The Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) has filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Madison, challenging a new $3 per ton state fee on garbage produced by municipalities, businesses and households. The NSWMA filed suit along with three companies that provide solid waste services in the state, which all feel that the law is unconstitutional.

A state budget provision enacted in August requires waste generators to pay the fee to use Wisconsin landfills after Jan. 1, 2002. The law would use the estimated $21 million collected through the fee to continue giving subsidies for municipal recycling programs.

The NSWMA's complaint states that the fee violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which makes it illegal to restrict interstate commerce. And according to David Biderman, general counsel for the NSWMA, it also asks the district court to issue an injunction that would prohibit the state from collecting the $3 per ton fee until the court has determined whether the new law is constitutional.

According to the NSWMA, this is the state's third try to block interstate trade. Two previous state laws were overturned by the federal court in 1995 and 1999.