Lawmakers Want Litter Bugs To Pay For It

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Fines for littering may go down in Tennessee if a litter ordinance is passed.

And lawmakers hope that will make the number of citations go up.

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt talked with supporters who say right now citations aren't getting written, because fines are too high.

Although it's Tommy Green's job to pick up litter, he says he doesn't mind.

"I think it's doing good to try to keep the grass clean."

But he says sometimes it takes him all day to clean up the mess.

"I wish they wouldn't, that's why they've got a lot of garbage cans around."

If the new litter ordinance passes, lawmakers hope you'll have to pay the fine for tossing out trash.

Sponsor of the bill, State Senator Tim Burchett says "Hit them in the pocket book, that's what you've got to do."

He says the current $500 fine isn't keeping Tennessee clean.

"We're seeing across the state that judges are very, not lenient, but they're not really looking to give a $500 fine for throwing a piece of litter out."

So by lowering the fine to $50 dollars, 'Keep Knoxville Beautiful' hopes citations will no longer get 'thrown out'.

"A lot of officers are reluctant to write a $500 citation for a cigarette butt," says Executive Director Tom Salter.

Lt. Jessie Brooks say it's tough to catch litter bugs red-handed. But when they do...

"It doesn't matter what the fine is, we're going to enforce it."

And he says they hope making you pay, also makes you remember.

"You'll remember you just threw $200 out the window."

Supporters of the bill say it takes less time and energy for you to throw something away, than it does for someone else to clean it up.

"You might have 20-30 volunteers, they've got litter bags, vehicles, that's using energy," says Salter.

He hopes instead, you'll use your energy to keep the city beautiful.

"We want people to worry about getting a ticket if they litter, cause right now they're not."

If the ordinance passes, it will take effect July 1st.


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