There is no shortage of bad ideas coming out of Lansing. Senate Bill 1285 introduced by Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, would require customers to pay a deposit on each newspaper they purchase equal to one-half the retail price of the newspaper. The proposed law would operate much like Michigan's bottle deposit law. Newspapers would be required to be returned to a redemption center, with each publisher in the state required to operate at least one such center.

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What possible benefit to the public could there be in requiring a newspaper deposit? There is certainly no environmental benefit since many Michigan communities offer curbside recycling that includes newspapers. In most cases where curbside recycling is not offered, there are recycling centers located within a reasonable distance. People throwing newspapers out the windows of their vehicles as they travel highways in the state seem to be rare occurrences.

Raising revenue for the school aid fund appears to be the real motivation behind SB 1285. The bill would require that deposits that go unclaimed by customers (probably a common practice due to the inconvenience of returning papers to a regional redemption center) be claimed by the state and deposited in the school aid fund.

No matter what the rational for prosing SB 1285, the results would be the death of published newspapers in Michigan. The newspaper industry is already facing immense pressure from decreased advertising revenues and the proliferation of online information. If this bill were to become law it would seal their fate.