2012 Legislative Updates
At the national level
Establishing a Center of Expertise for the School of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
At the June meeting of the EPA Federal Advisory Committee, part of the discussion centered on a three-year plan to establish a Center of Expertise with three new staff positions for the School of Integrated Pest Management in Dallas, Tex. Some of the Pesticide Policy Dialogue Committee members expressed concern about the low rates of IPM adoption in schools. The discussion of school IPM was wide-ranging, with work groups reporting on creating “verifiable IPM” through various metrics and increasing adoption. PLANET is represented on this committee.
The Northeast Voluntary Turf Fertilizer Initiative
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission announced that it will be meeting about a Northeast Voluntary Turf Fertilizer Initiative. Through this initiative, the six New England states, New York State, and the EPA hope to engage various industry and non-industry stakeholders in discussions about the contribution of turf fertilizers to water pollution problems and the ways in which those contributions can be minimized. The goal of this initiative is to develop mutually agreeable voluntary guidelines on the formulation, labeling, and application of turf fertilizer for the Northeast region. The commission’s vision is that these guidelines will be formalized as agreements among stakeholders and will allow implementation of a regional approach. The plan is to hold three stakeholder meetings, with the fertilizer users group being the last. PLANET will monitor and participate in this process to see where it goes.
H-2B rule changes blocked from going into effect
On April 26, Judge Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida issued an order enjoining the Department of Labor (DOL) from enforcing the 2012 H-2B rule changes. The proposed intervenors filed an appeal to the Eleventh Circuit as well as a motion asking Judge Rodgers to stay the preliminary injunction. The Justice Department also filed its own appeal. In the meantime, Judge Rodgers denied the request for a stay of her order, finding that the DOL was not likely to succeed on the merits. Both the proposed intervenors and the government now have requested a stay from the Eleventh Circuit. This is the required procedure—to first request a stay from the district court, and then, if necessary, from the court of appeals.
The response to the motion was filed by PLANET’s lawyers as required before the May 23, 2012, due date, and we will be opposing that request. We will also be filing a motion to dismiss the proposed intervenors’ appeal because they are not parties at this point in time. Finally, Judge Pollak, the judge in the Pennsylvania case, passed away, and the case had not yet been reassigned to a new judge. That reassignment may change the complexion of the case there. We will keep everyone informed of the progress of the proceedings in the Eleventh Circuit.
This ruling will also impact the DOL’s plans to implement the wage rule, which is still blocked by Congress until September 30. The wage rule case and the program rule case have the same arguments against them, so the decision on one can affect the decision on the other. While the ruling was issued in Florida, the decision applies nationwide.
At the State Level
State immigration bills on the decline?
State immigration bills aimed at immigrants and refugees saw a steep decline in this year’s legislative session. In the first quarter of 2012, 865 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees were introduced in 45 state legislatures and in the District of Columbia. The number represents a 44 percent decrease from the same point last year when 1,538 bills were introduced. The bills introduced focus on law enforcement, employment, and public benefits. Some states are waiting to see how the Supreme Court rules on immigration issues before moving ahead with their own proposals.
The Boulder City Council enacted an ordinance at the end of April to further restrict the use of pesticides on city-owned property. The ordinance establishes a tiered list of pesticides that may be used. For more than 10 years, Boulder has had a policy of limited use of pesticides, relying on hand weeding for most situations—Colorado’s noxious weed law compels the city to remove certain weeds.
The General Assembly’s Environment Committee failed to advance an industry pro-IPM bill—H.B. 5155—which PLANET had been supporting through the Connecticut Environmental Council. H.B. 5155 would remove the ban on pesticide use at K–8 grade schools and would permit pesticide use on all public and private K–12 grade schools if they adhere to the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Because H.B. 5155 did not pass, the prohibition on pesticide applications on school grounds for grades K–8 that has been in place for several years remains.
More importantly, H.B. 5121, which would have rolled back state pesticide preemption and would have allowed local governments to pass any pesticide requirements failed. This bill would have banned pesticides use on all residential, municipal, and commercial lawns (including public and private golf courses). This proposal would have banned pesticides at all public and private schools, as well as on municipal recreation fields.
Connecticut Senate Bill 254 with phosphorus restrictions passed and it does not include an exemption for organic fertilizer. Many states now have similar laws.
H.B. 5242, The Irrigation Extension Bill, is stuck in the House Rules Committee, and the Pipe Fitters Union seems to be the ones holding it up. If this bill does not pass, only licensed plumbers who are registered plumbing contractors will be able to install and maintain irrigation systems in the state. Non-licensed, non-registered irrigation contractors would no longer be able to perform these services.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is proposing changes to the regulations for “Supervision of Non-Certified Pesticide Applicators.” A major change would require there be a minimum of one (1) certified applicator per company branch or office location. A certified applicator would supervise up to but not more than 20 non-certified applicators. Licensed applicators in Massachusetts should make comments on the proposed changes and check with the MDAR to see what changes can affect their businesses.
Licensed landscape contractors soon may not be allowed to design and plan irrigation systems that are being installed without a Landscape Architects license. It seems the two boards have laws and rules that may conflict or may not be clear in what they cover.
Industry opposition was instrumental in the demise this year of S.B. 2443, which would have established a neighborhood pesticide notification registry for occupants of a dwelling who want prior notification of any commercial lawn application of a pesticide. The act would have required at least forty-eight (48) hours notice prior to any commercial lawn application of a pesticide.
Pesticide regulations proposed by the Clemson University Department of Pesticide would change licensing requirements for the use of Roundup®-like products. Presently, applicators need a license to apply this type of product, but this requirement may be eliminated in the future.