During its most recent board meeting, the CTPA Board took a closer look at the various bills currently before the Connecticut State Legislature. Several of these bills were mentioned in a recent CTPA post. In addition, at least two bills have surfaced since that previous post that CTPA members may want to be aware of.
HB 6429, An Act Concerning a Grant-in-Aid Program for Municipalities Combatting Gypsy Moth and Emerald Ash Borer, proposes a process for bringing funding to towns dealing with trees killed due to those invasive insects.
Two bills in particular caught the Board’s attention. After extensive discussion of these bills, the CTPA Board decided to express its support for HB 5999 and its opposition to SB 76.
This bill, would make 3 specific changes to current pesticide law. The first part of this bill would establish an account within state government, to be known as the Pesticide Enforcement Account. Money in this account would be used to
• cover the costs of regulating pesticides
• perform the inspections needed to enforce the laws on pesticide use and
• any other enforcement activities necessary in the regulation of pesticides by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The second part of the bill would set up an electronic reporting and record keeping system for pesticide registrations and for private and commercial pesticide applicator permits and certifications.
The third part of the bill calls for the creation of regulations regarding the on-line purchase of restricted use pesticides and for the implementation of a monitoring program to determine levels of pesticides in the soil, water and natural resources of the state, including, but not limited to, the state’s wildlife.
It is primarily the first part of the bill that caught the board’s attention. CTPA’s membership has long called for more effective enforcement of the Arborist Law. It is not clear, within the narrow confines of this bill, whether, if this legislation were to be enacted, it would increase enforcement related to the full range of arboricultural activities or just those related to pesticide use in tree care. However, as the Board sees it, the Arborist Law is regulated within DEEP through the Pesticide Management Program. Given that one of the limitations to greater enforcement of the Arborist Law is a shortage of personnel within the agency, any increase in resources provided to the Pesticide Program is apt to benefit arborists and to lead to better enforcement of the Arborist Law.
Funding for the Pesticide Enforcement Account will primarily come from the registration of pesticides, something that is required of companies that manufacture pesticides and seek to sell them in the state. This bill is before the Environment Committee. A Public Hearing on this bill will be held on Monday, March 18th. CTPA will be submitting testimony in support of this bill to the Environment Committee.
SB 76 is being opposed by the CTPA Board on behalf of its membership. The bill in its entirety reads as follows:
“Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 441 of the general statutes or any regulation adopted pursuant to said chapter, any municipality may, by ordinance, restrict the application of any pesticide, as defined in section 22a-47 of the general statutes, on any parcel of real property located in such municipality.”
The CTPA Board is concerned about this bill for 3 main reasons:
• It would undercut the authority of the DEEP Pesticide Program regarding how it regulates pesticides, including undermining the extensive review of pesticides and of the testing process that is a part of the DEEP’s determination as to whether specific pesticides are safe for use in Connecticut
• It would needlessly complicate how pesticides are applied by those businesses that are legitimate pesticide applicators, potentially leading both to errors due to confusion about what is permitted and what is not and to extra-legal applications by homeowners and other unlicensed applicators, and
• It is likely that it would make appropriate pesticide applications less effective in outbreak circumstances, as insect and disease pests do not recognize human drawn boundaries and as this bill would unnecessarily limit choices available to individual property owners during such outbreaks.
CTPA is joined with CT-EC in our concern regarding this bill. This bill is before the Environment Committee. The Public Hearing on this bill is also being held on Monday, March 18th. CTPA will be submitting testimony.
CTPA members who might wish to provide their own comment on these two bill or any other matters before the Environment Committee are encouraged to express their thoughts to the Committee through the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Members are also encouraged to contact their own legislative representatives to let these representatives know of their interests and concerns.
Members interested in tracking the progress of these or other bills should visit the Connecticut General Assembly web site.