Busy Season for State Legislatures
State Legislative Update
Michelle Moore, Manager of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, NPMA
Josh Reynolds, Manager of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, NPMA
Most state legislatures adjourned at the start of the summer, and seven states adjourned this past autumn and winter. In last year’s sessions, our industry accomplished significant victories by working diligently to prevent any negative or burdensome outcomes in states with unfavorable political dynamics. The majority of sessions adjourning in summer signaled the start of the slow season for legislative affairs; however, industry members continued to engage on issues by meeting with legislators and regulators to advocate on behalf of the industry. As we close the book on another busy state legislative cycle, we would like to extend a well-deserved thank you to all our State Policy Affairs Representatives (SPARs), state association leaders, Public Policy Committee members, and member advocates for their hard work in defending our industry.
In the eastern half of the U.S., we saw a trend in the northeast of unruly legislation that would make it virtually impossible to conduct daily operations using rodenticides. In Connecticut, Senate Bill 962 sought to prohibit the use of second-generation rodenticides for both consumers and professionals alike. Similar legislation banning rodenticides appeared in New England states, but New Hampshire’s House Bill 326 turned out to be the most controversial as Environmental NGOs worked diligently to support its passage. In the face of EPA’s pending interim decision on rodenticides, both issues failed to make it through as legislatures decided to hold these issues for the preparation of the federal outcome.
In the West, the industry was bombarded with neonicotinoid legislation in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Nevada. However, the industry’s biggest legislative issue was in Colorado, with the Pesticide Applicator’s Act (PAA). This bill, which comes up every seven years, focused on the renewal of the PAA. In early 2022, industry representatives started meeting with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to prevent the PAA from becoming a vehicle to roll back pesticide preemption. Thanks to hard work, ground game, and continual advocacy, our industry again succeeded in defending pesticide preemption in a deep blue state.
We are already engaging on several pieces of legislation across the country and are anticipating SEVERAL STATES TO PUSH FOR LOCAL AUTHORITY OVER PESTICIDE REGULATION, with activity in Colorado and Massachusetts from 2023 rolling over into 2024.
Minnesota was another state that saw its political dynamic change heading into 2023. For the first time in nearly a decade, the Democratic party held a trifecta—control over both legislative chambers and the Governor’s office. This year, Minnesota’s cities of the first class became the licensing, regulatory, and enforcement entity for pesticides used within their cities with a pollinator advisory on the label. And, statutory and home rule charter cities gained the ability to penalize and enforce some pesticide use in their city limits starting July 1st after passage of a partial preemption rollback bill.
At the end of the year, we saw continued legislative work in states like California and New York, while other states began planning for this year. In California, our SPARs worked diligently as Governor Newsom considered three bills that impacted our industry. The most important was Assembly Bill 1322, which restricted the use of an FGAR in the state and was ultimately signed into law on October 13th. Governor Newsom also signed two bills that our industry monitored, one being a restriction of neonicotinoid usage for turf and ornamental purposes and another that created an Environmental Justice advisory committee as part of the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).
In New York, two pieces of legislation from 2022 resurfaced and made it through both chambers and onto the Governor’s desk. The first is a bill that would prohibit the application of pesticides to wetlands, which had the potential to result in a preemption rollback. Fortunately for the industry, the Governor ultimately vetoed this bill. The second was a bill that would restrict the use of neonicotinoid products for outdoor applications. Due to the hard work of NPMA and state representatives who engaged the state’s regulatory officials, the Governor vetoed this bill as well.
With 2024 being an election year, we are anticipating hotly contested, partisan legislative sessions as elected officials vie for any bills that can then be used on the campaign trail. 2024 will see 44 states across the country hold elections for 86 chambers. We are keeping our eye on states that have slim legislative majorities, like Michigan and Minnesota, as they may pass vital party legislation because the lack thereof could have major electoral implications.
We are already engaging on several pieces of legislation across the country and are anticipating several states to push for local authority over pesticide regulation, with activity in Colorado and Massachusetts from 2023 rolling over into 2024. In Massachusetts, towns have again petitioned the legislature to introduce bills that are similar to the actions taken in the town of Arlington in past years. This initiative from previous years resulted in the state’s Attorney General enforcing the authority of their enacted pesticide preemption law. NPMA is also working proactively with our SPARs to push pro-industry legislation in the upcoming legislative sessions.