[Legislative Update] New Congress, New Opportunities

Features - Legislation

Attendees of Legislative Day 2015 will be greeted by many new faces in Congress, a development that could be positive for the pest control industry.

February 26, 2015

NPMA’s Legislative Day is a unique opportunity for PCOs to meet with their legislators and have their voices heard on issues that impact them. Visits at this year’s Legislative Day, being held March 15-17, in Washington, D.C., have the potential to be even more fruitful as last November’s congressional elections have reshaped Congress.

The Republican party gained nine seats in the U.S. Senate and 12 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, giving the GOP control of the Senate 54-46 (two Independents who have caucused with Democrats are included in the 46 number) and strengthening the GOP’s grip on the House 246-188.

“Having Republicans control the Senate is huge,” said Gene Harrington, vice president of Government Affairs, NPMA. “They can dictate the agenda and the bills that they want. A lot of bills, some of which we have supported, have stalled in the (Democrat-controlled) Senate. It will be interesting to see how these changes can help move our agenda forward.”

Another result of the November elections is that committee leadership will change, including committees that impact PCOs. In the Senate, Pat Roberts (R-KS) replaces Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) as chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. In the House, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) is the new chair of the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture.

Featured Speakers are McChrystal, Wallace and Reid

This year’s Legislative Day features keynote addresses by the following renowned D.C. figures.

General Stanley McChrystal, former Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan, is the Monday luncheon keynote speaker. McChrystal is widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. Modern warfare and business demand the same no-nonsense leadership that drives change and implements it across large organizations. McChrystal will reveal a four-star management strategy, concentrating on openness, teamwork, and forward-thinking. His presentation is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.

Giving the Monday afternoon keynote speech, sponsored by FMC Professional Solutions, is Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday. A three-time Emmy award-winning anchor for FOX News, Wallace will recap he mid-term congressional and gubernatorial elections, what it might mean for the remainder of President Obama’s second term, and provide insight and a historian’s perspective into the race for the White House in 2016.

The keynote speech for the Tuesday morning breakfast will be given by Reid Wilson, editor of The Washington Post’s Read In edition and former editor-in-chief of National Journal’s The Hotline. Wilson will provide an overview of Capitol Hill, K Street, and election campaigns and he will share insights on the big trends that will affect the election the most. His speech is sponsored by Control Solutions, Inc.

The power shift from Democrat to Republican isn’t the only shake up that makes the 114th Congress interesting. “In the past couple election cycles there has been incredible turnover. Since 2010, almost 50 percent of the 535 members of Congress are new, so it will be important for NPMA and its members to meet as many of these new folks as possible,” Harrington said.

A new face to the 114th Congress that is an important one for PCOs is Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), president of Rose Pest Solutions. Dold won back his seat (Illinois’ 10th district) in November by defeating incumbent Brad Schneider (D-IL).

Issues of Urgency.

One of the issues NPMA is hoping to gain traction on with the new Congress — especially in the Senate — relates to the Clean Water Act.

In recent years, several bills to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act regarding the use of pesticides near bodies of water have passed the House, only to stall in the Senate.

These bills were necessitated because of a misguided 2009 federal court ruling that requires costly and burdensome National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits for millions of pesticide applications. NPMA and others believe these permits interfere with and add costs to longstanding activities such as mosquito control and aquatic weed work — work performed by some pest management professionals.

An issue that may get revisited at Legislative Day is paperless reporting. Last year, the House passed the Pest Management Records Modernization Act, legislation to address the issue of certain states mandating pest control operators provide a hard copy consumer information sheet (e.g., pesticide records, use reports, consumer info sheets, etc.) at the time of service, or after service. Many companies have invested large sums of money to go paperless, yet they are unable to do so completely because the state(s) in which they operate have mandated they provide hard copies. Some companies have asked their state regulatory authority for clarification, but NPMA and its members believe this issue needs to be addressed federally.

A new issue that has arisen for PCOs involved in fumigation work is a recent rulemaking proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service establishing a $375 fee for export fumigations. NPMA and others believe this is an exorbitant and costly fee and has been working with other groups — and with congressional members — in efforts to make the rulemaking more reasonable and workable.

Pollinator Health.

The pest control industry is keeping close tabs on ongoing efforts to enact additional label restrictions in response to concerns about bee health. Harrington said this is a fluid issue but he expects that by Legislative Day the White House will release a package of materials in response to President Obama’s June 2014 memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators. Within this package of materials there is expected to be prospective label language to be added to about 75 active ingredients (affecting about 1,600 products). Harrington said that the language will likely instruct applicators to “use the product in accordance with EPA-approved state pollinator protection plans.”

NPMA has been working with state regulatory officials to develop a model state pollinator plan that provides flexibility. “But if your state does not adopt such a plan, you will be subject to more rigid label language,” Harrington said

More Voices Needed.

Harrington said this year’s Legislative Day provides PCOs with a tremendous opportunity to establish a line of communication and develop a relationship with their representatives. The more voices working together gives NPMA a greater opportunity for success. Legislative Day 2015 is lead-sponsored by FMC Professional Solutions. Other sponsors include Dow AgroSciences and Control Solutions, Inc.


The author can be contacted at bharbison@gie.net.