Slow Start in Legislature on Pesticide Bills
NYPMA Legislative Counsel
Hopefully, everyone reading this article is at least aware that the New York Assembly had a difficult time getting its feet under them this session by reason of Speaker Sheldon Silver’s forced resignation due to corruption charges. Although a sense of normalcy has returned to that chamber, most of its efforts – and the efforts of the Senate – have been focused on the State Budget, which is supposed to be finalized by April 1.
Our readers should also know that our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has taken great pride in having passed on-time budgets every year during his first term in office. This may not happen this year because he amended his budget to tack on some so-called ethics reforms. The amendments were inserted along with his “thirty-day amendments” which are intended to tweak the original document. It is clearly unlawful to add major policy initiatives as a part of these thirty day amendments.
There is no way that Cuomo’s ethics reforms qualify to be included as part of the thirty-day amendment process and it will be fun to see how the legislature reacts. Cuomo’s heavy-handed technique in introducing these reforms in this manner tells a lot about the man. He is willing to thwart the law in order to get what he wants. It will also tell a lot about the legislature. Does it have the guts to take him to court over this – and be painted as opposed to ethics reform? Watching issues such as this unfold is one of the fun things about being a lobbyist.
Back to pesticide issues: To date, there have been 85 bills introduced in the legislature that are of interest to NYPMA members and, as usual, very few of them actually benefit our industry. There is one stark statistic in these numbers. Fifty-six of these bills have been introduced in the Assembly and 23 of them – exactly half – have been introduced by the newly appointed Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Steve Englebright. None of these bills favor our industry.
To date, there has been no action in the Senate on pesticide-related bills and only four of them have advanced beyond their original committees in the Assembly. One of them, A.129 by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, has advanced to the floor and will probably pass, as it has done in recent years. The bill prohibits the application of pesticides on “playgrounds, turf, athletic and playing fields” belonging to overnight and summer day camps. It is nearly identical to an earlier law that applies to public and nonpublic schools. Thus far, the bill, which is sponsored in the Senate by Carl Carlucci, has yet to pass in that house. Carlucci carries a bit of weight in the Senate because he is a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus, which often gets special treatment because it is generally aligned with the Republican majority.
Another bill, A.700, which is sponsored by Assemblyman Englebright, is also on the floor of the Assembly. It seeks to require IPM practices to be followed in hospitals and is opposed by NYPMA because it uses “least toxic as a last resort” language in defining IPM. It, too, has passed in prior years, but is given little chance in the Senate because it is sponsored by a Minority Democrat, Kevin Parker.
The remaining two bills are of minor interest to NYPMA. They are A.309, by M of A Dinowitz, which seeks to require used mattresses to be sanitized and A. 4759 by M of A Kaminsky, which seeks to require mold assessment and remediation specialists to be licensed. Stay tuned, however, because things are sure to heat up as the session moves along.