State legislators are considering a bill that would hold dry cleaners accountable and make sure they contribute to a dried-up fund designed to remove hazardous chemicals from the ground.
It comes after a series of Troubleshooters investigations examining the fund and why it's often empty. Some suspect that not all dry cleaners in the state are paying into the fund, as they're required to do.
For years, a number of projects to clean up the ground beneath dry cleaning facilities have stagnated. Dry cleaners are required to clean up their properties because they use a chemical called perchloroethylene, which contaminates soil and groundwater.
A one-percent surcharge on dry cleaning bills pays for cleanups, but it's believed some businesses haven't shared the money they collect.
The Department of Revenue Services is backing a bill supported by the dry cleaning associations that would require those businesses to register so the state can keep better track of them.
Gail Reiner, who is among the supporters, testified at a hearing Wednesday that "while dry cleaners are required to give the surcharge to the fund, it is up to them to make those payments."
"I'm thrilled now that our industry has more of a voice and that the state DRS and DECD (Dept. of Economic and Community Development) is paying more attention to this important contributor to quality of life as it were in the state," she said.
The proposed bill also calls for a fine of up to $1,000 if dry cleaning businesses are caught failing to contribute to the fund.