This year’s session of the legislature is winding down, with the session ending on this Wednesday, May 4. There have been 3 bills that the CTPA board has been watching closely. Here is a quick update:
Bill 231 – An Act Concerning Pollinator Health – has already passed both the House and the Senate and is just awaiting the Governor’s signature. This bill includes several provisions regarding pollinators, including requirements regarding the establishment of model pollinator habitat and the creation, by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, of a Pollinator Advisory Committee. Perhaps of most interest to Connecticut’s arborists is that this bill makes the neonicotinoids restricted use pesticides. The bill defines the neonicotinoids as, “any pesticide that acts selectively on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of an organism, including clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and any other such pesticide that the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, after consultation with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, determines will result in the death of fifty per cent or more of a population of bees when two micrograms or less of such pesticide is applied to each bee within such population.”
The bill also prohibits the application of neonicotinoids to lindens and basswood trees.
Bill 5150 – An Act Concerning Tree Wardens’ Notices on Trees and Shrubs Prior to Removal, Tree Removal Along State Highways and Clean-up by Public Utility Corporations Following Certain Tree Removal – has gone through some interesting twists and turns before getting to where it is now. Originally, the bill contained some broad reaching language that, among other things, would have required tree wardens to post all trees and shrubs for which they have received a request for a permit to allow the pruning or removal of those trees before he or she could issue the permit. The bill also originally required DOT to submit a plan the legislature’s Environment Committee and DEEP before conducting any tree removal along state highways, and for utilities to remove any debris generated from utility requested tree removals or pruning that occurred within the utility protection zone.
That last section remains in the current bill. As for the first requirement, that has been changed substantially, until now it has become a requirement for utilities to inform the tree warden in each town as to where and when it plans to conduct tree removals and pruning over the following year, and for the towns to publish that information in electronic form.
The provision requiring DOT to notify the legislature and DEEP regarding its plans for tree removals was first removed from the bill, and then almost reinserted through an amendment just before the House voted last week. However, this amendment was withdrawn and the House voted 145-1 in favor of the bill, which has now gone to the Senate. Thes Senate must vote favorably by Wednesday for this bill to survive.
The final bill – Bill 5258, An Act Concerning a Property Owner’s Liability for the Expenses of Removing a Fallen Tree or Limb – is still alive but is lagging behind. That is not a hopeful sign when the session has so little time left. But there still is time for the bill to pass and, if so, be signed by the Governor.
Further updates will be forthcoming as the dust settles.