Legislative Day Attendees Hope Congressional Visits Will Bring Change

Legislative Day Attendees Hope Congressional Visits Will Bring Change

An energized group of PCOs and other industry stakeholders met with their congressional representatives last week.

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March 23, 2018
Brad Harbison
Events & Meetings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An energized group of PCOs and other industry stakeholders met with their congressional representatives on March 20, as part of the National Pest Management Association's (NPMA) Legislative Day.

As in year’s past, attendees encouraged their representatives to consider the pest control industry’s position on regulatory and business-related issues that hamper them from providing services that safeguard people and property.

What was different about this year’s event was there were several factors in their favor, namely a more industry-friendly White House and Congress, and the pending Farm Bill, which needs to be renewed. It’s for these reasons the pest control industry may see the fruits of its advocacy labors in the future.

Prior to making their Legislative Day visits, Andrew Bray, vice president of public policy, NPMA, reviewed three issues the pest control industry is hoping to gain traction with in the current Congress.

Regulatory Clarity. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the role between the EPA and the states regarding pesticide regulation was clearly defined. EPA regulates and registers products, then enters into agreements with states as to how states regulate the use of pesticides. This procedure was challenged in a 1991 Supreme Court case in which the court ruled that states’ statutes could not specifically excludes political subdivisions (localities). In the mid-1990s most states fixed their statutes to exclude subdivisions; however, five states did not do so, and those five have been battleground states for local pesticide bans (e.g., Maine and Maryland). NPMA has partnered with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) on a joint proposal to ensure the relationship between EPA and state lead agencies regarding pesticide regulation. 

Read NPMA’s position paper on this issue.

NPDES Permits. Despite the fact that pesticides applied in accordance with FIFRA have already undergone a thorough review during the EPA registration and reregistration processes, National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits are required under the Clean Water Act any time chemical pesticides are used in, over or near Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The pest control industry has long been of the belief that these permits place an unnecessary and costly burden on them. There are two pieces of legislation in Congress to address this duplicative regulation. In the Senate, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2017 (S. 340) has been assigned to the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) awaiting further action. Last week the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing on the Agriculture Creates Real Employment (ACRE) Act which includes the language of S. 340 in section 6 of the ACRE Act. In the House, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017 (H. 953) has passed the Committee on Agriculture with bipartisan support and is now in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Read NPMA’s position paper on this issue.

Endangered Species Act. NPMA and others believe the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as currently drafted, is broken. The Department of Interior, specifically the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively the Services), are tasked with implementing the ESA. This group can slow down the registration (or reregistration) review of products they determine may affect a listed endangered species by engaging in a slow-moving consultative process — involving scientific assessments with different standards and expertise — with EPA. NPMA believes now is the time to fix the broken pesticide consultation process between EPA and the Services to better protect people their business and their homes. 

Read NPMA’s position paper on this issue.

Other highlights from Legislative Day, included:

  • Karl Rove, former Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush and Josh Earnest, former White House Press Secretary to President Barack Obama, faced off in a good-spirited debate during the Tuesday luncheon sponsored by FMC. Of course, President Donald Trump was the focal point of their discussions. Rove praised the President for cutting the corporate tax to make America more competitive in the interconnected global economy, and for holding NATO allies more financially accountable. However, he shared concerns about all of the turnover in Trump’s administration. As a White House insider who worked closely with former President Obama, Earnest said he foresees one of the major future challenges for Trump is his reactive nature. “You have to be willing to take on the bad headlines in order to achieve longer term goals,” he said. 

  • Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) provided political insights with several personal and professional stories he related in a session sponsored by Dow AgroSciences. Chaffetz said business owners, like those PCOs in attendance at Legislative Day, are the ones who are going to solve the nation’s problems and not the “people on Capitol Hill.” Chaffetz related how he has overcome life’s obstacles including struggling with his parents’ divorce when he was 12, and later losing both his mom and dad to cancer. “I think about those tough times and I realize that is what gave me a lot of strength and a lot of goodness and love,” he said. Chaffetz encouraged Legislative Day attendees to “speak from the heart” and share their personal experiences when they make their Congressional visits.

  • Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager of President Trump shared his observations about the Trump administration in a session sponsored by Control Solutions, Inc. Lewandowski said the Trump organization runs like a small business, and it has been “refreshing to have a small business owner running our government.” Relating this to PCOs, Lewandowski reminded the audience that “this President made a promise on the campaign that for every new regulation he puts in, he would reduce two. But that’s not what he’d done. For every government regulation he’s put in place he’s actually reduced it by 22.”

  • MGK held its Headquarters on the Hill Tuesday luncheon. This important final session was an opportunity for attendees to review NPMA issues and share valuable information obtained during Congressional office visits with fellow members and NPMA staff. The guest speaker was congressman Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

  • A performance by the Capitol Steps on Sunday night. The group put Washington’s hottest scandals to popular tunes. The performance and subsequent dessert reception were sponsored by Syngenta.

  • PCT and BASF presented the annual Technician of the Year Awards program at Legislative Day. This year’s honorees have all traveled different paths to the pest control industry, but since they arrived they’ve become company leaders by going the extra mile for their customers, coworkers and companies.This year’s awards were presented to:

    Joey Hoke, American Pest Management, Manhattan, Kan.
    Gus Walker, Gregory Pest Solutions, Greenville, S.C.
    James Miners, Western Pest Services, Randolph, N.J

The 2018 program will launch in April. For more information about the program email bharbison@gie.net