NALP VP of Government Relations Paul Mendelsohn traveled to Boston this past week to join Director of State and Local Government Relations Bob Mann in attending the quarterly meeting of the Massachusetts Pesticide Board. Topics covered in the meeting included the announcement of those who will form the new Pesticide Advocacy Council, including our own Bob Mann.
The ongoing saga over right-of-way herbicide spraying was again on full display with the Board voting to accept the recommended decision of the Division of Administrative Law Appeal (DALA) that an appeal of the local electrical utility’s yearly operation plan has no legal standing, meaning that the court found that those who filed suit did not show that they were harmed by the initial decision of the Pesticide Board. While this may not seem to have anything to do with landscaping, groups such as this do not limit their activity to just utility rights-of-way. If they cannot win on the merits, they turn to changing the laws governing pesticide use overall, including filing to remove the long-standing state preemption of pesticide regulation. This would directly affect NALP members not only in Massachusetts, but eventually in other states, too.
After the board voted to approve the court’s recommendation, a group from Cape Cod called Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer gave an informative presentation that attempted to draw a link between herbicide use and groundwater contamination. Since the group’s presentation did not coincide with any business before the board, no action was taken.
Massachusetts pesticide applicators have been long-suffering with an antiquated set of computer systems that handle their pesticide licenses. Recently, the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) rolled out a new on-line system that allows applicators to schedule examinations, upload required documents such as insurance certificates and recertification credits, and perform the annual renewal of their license. Based on feedback from license holders, there has been a bit of a learning curve involved that MDAR has worked hard to flatten through e-mail correspondence and training material. The department recognizes that with this cycle of renewals that it is very difficult to renew licenses before the traditional due date of December 1st, therefore MDAR has decided to waive the late fee for this year.
The following day, Mann and Mendelsohn traveled to Beacon Hill to visit legislative offices in the Massachusetts State House. Of concern is House Bill 4041, An Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators. NALP discovered that through an oversight in the drafting process this bill would forbit licensed professionals from using neonicotinoid insecticides in the landscape during what the bill defines as the blooming season, the period from March 1st to October 31st. NALP is working with legislative staff to redefine the uses and timing of applications in the bill to be more in line with real world uses.