AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Millions of bottles of water are shipped out of Maine every year - but should Maine state government be buying it?
State Representative Brian Jones (D-Freedom) is sponsoring a bill in the Legislature that would prohibit government agencies at all levels --- state and local - from buying bottled water.
Rep. Jones told a legislative hearing Monday that his major reason for the ban is the budget. He says government agencies shouldn't be spending money on bottled water at a time when the budget is being cut.
Several state agencies are opposing the ban, saying they need to provide bottled water to people with polluted or damaged wells. But Jones says the bigger issue matters - that bottled water is a luxury government shouldn't buy.
Jones says it is "morally indefensible" for the state to be spending money on what he considers a luxury item at a time when budgets for poor people are being cut.
Rep. Jones says he knows there need to be some exceptions to the law, such as those raised by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Department of Transportation, and told the State and Local Government Committee he hopes to work with them to make those needed changes.
However, there are questions about how much money the bill would actually save. Jones says he doesn't yet know how much the state spends on bottled water, let alone what local schools or other offices spend.
Jones says Vermont saved $200,000 with a similar ban, but didn't have any other details on costs or potential savings. Committee members asked him to find that information before their next discussion of the bill, which could occur next week.