By Brad Harbison
While the current Congress remains deeply divided along party lines, PCOs who headed to Capitol Hill as part of February’s NPMA Legislative Day left with optimism that their visits could pay dividends. Part of the reason for this optimism is the pest control industry is backing legislation that may appeal to both sides of the aisle, particularly issues related to public health. “There are great opportunities for you to build bridges and position yourself as a resource for whoever you are talking to,” said Jim Fredericks, vice president, technical and regulatory affairs, NPMA.
SMASH ACT. One of the issues Legislative Day attendees lobbied for at Legislative Day was support of H.R. 345, the “Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health Act (SMASH Act).” The SMASH Act passed the House in the 115th Congress and was included in a wider package on pandemic preparedness in the Senate. Unfortunately, despite broad bipartisan support, it did not pass in 2018, and was re-introduced in the 116th Congress as H.R. 345 (with a Senate companion bill expected to be introduced by Sen. Angus King, D-Maine). The bill would extend CDC grants for mosquito control programs to include emerging mosquito-borne diseases and to improve existing control programs. The bill would also require a GAO report on the surveillance and control of emerging mosquito-borne infectious diseases in the United States and territories.
“Last year, there were 2,544 cases of West Nile virus in the U.S., and 137 people died because of West Nile virus,” said Fredericks, who added that when Zika began making headlines NPMA was often called upon for its public health expertise.
REDTAPE ACT. A separate, but somewhat related issue is the pest control industry’s ongoing efforts to fight the requirement of National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which the industry believes places an unnecessary burden on them. Despite the fact that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) have already undergone a thorough review during the EPA registration and reregistration processes, 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, and other pesticide applicators, suffered a setback last year when legislation that would eliminate NPDES permits, H.R.953, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act,” was not included in the final version of the Farm Bill. However, this effort to eliminate NPDES permitting is still being actively pursued by various stakeholders, including NPMA, and legislation was recently introduced in the House, H.R. 890, the “Reducing EPA Duplication to Advance Pesticide Enforcement Act (REDTAPE Act).” Legislative Day attendees encouraged their representatives to support this legislation.
BED BUGS. Legislative Day attendees were seeking Congressional partners to help address the crisis of bed bugs, particularly when addressing infestations in affordable housing communities. Pest management professionals have positioned themselves as the best people to inspect, diagnose and craft an integrated approach to manage bed bugs, even in large multi-family dwellings, rather than depending on do-it-yourself efforts that often only perpetuate the problem and contribute to insecticide resistance. NPMA hopes that members of Congress will be willing to engage with affected industries and find a path forward to help manage bed bug infestations, particularly for those who are unable to afford treatment on their own. Ashley Amidon, vice president, public policy, NPMA, said Legislative Day attendees were to use their visits to gauge interest. “Whether it’s grants to do studies, or dealing with bed bugs in lower income housing we have some ideas, but we want to know what your boss thinks,” was the message Amidon encouraged attendees to share with congressional aides. Amidon added that once NPMA gets a feel for which legislators might be open to partnering, they will work on scheduling longer, more targeted visits.
TAX ISSUES. Legislative Day attendees also used their Capitol Hill visits to encourage their representatives to support a pair of tax issues that can have positive trickle-down effects: H.R. 216, “The Main Street Tax Certainty Act” and the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).” The Main Street Tax Certainty Act is a bipartisan bill, sponsored by Reps. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), that makes the Section 199A deduction permanent. The Section 199A deduction is popular for pass-through businesses — companies such as partnerships, S corporations and sole proprietorships. Without H.R. 216, this deduction expires in 2026. Section 199A of the federal tax code allows small businesses to deduct up to 20% of qualified business income (QBI). QBI is the net amount of income, gain, deduction, and loss relative to the business. After the deduction, the remaining income would be subject to the appropriate individual rate. With H.R. 216 and a 20% deduction under a maximum individual tax rate of 37%, the effective tax rate for pass-through entities is cut to 29.6%. If H.R. 216 is not passed, small businesses will see their tax rates increase. Attendees were tasked with asking their reps to support H.R. 216 to permanently secure a bipartisan tax deduction for small businesses.
NPMA also supports the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The legislation, passed by Congress in December 2017, made significant progress in improving the cost recovery treatment of business investment by enacting 100 percent bonus depreciation for short-lived assets (Section 168(k)). This provision allows businesses to immediately deduct the full cost of short-lived investments, similar to the treatment of other business expenses, rather than stretching deductions over many years. However, it is only scheduled to be in full effect for five years, then phase down. It will begin to phase out in 2023 and will expire in its entirety at the end of 2026.
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Norman Goldenberg Honored for Advocacy
As part of The Pest Management Foundation’s gala, longtime Terminix executive Norman Goldenberg was honored for his industry advocacy. Goldenberg was instrumental in founding The Pest Management Foundation, whose mission and purpose is to advance the pest management industry through education, research and training.
Deni Naumann, interim president of Terminix Commercial, presented a $50,000 donation to The Pest Management Fund in recognition of Goldenberg, who recently retired from Terminix. That donation helped The Foundation raise $100,000 at the gala.
Naumann thanked Goldenberg for “your decades of service to Terminix; your numerous hosted lunches, dinners and galas; your thousands of hotel stays and airline miles; your countless handshakes and introductions; your sly sense of humor and your warm laugh. And, mostly, the heartfelt concern you have shown each of us both professionally and personally.” Gala sponsors were Rollins, Terminix, Control Solutions, Copesan and MGK.
FMC Legislative Day Award Presented to Jim Steed
Jim Steed, owner of Neighborly Pest Control, Roseville, Calif., was recognized with the FMC Legislative Day Award.
The award is presented annually to individuals who have distinguished themselves in the pest management industry through various activities — particularly legislative involvement — and through their contributions to advancing the industry.
Dan Carrothers, commercial director for FMC North American Professional Solutions, presented the award to Steed, who began working for Neighborly in 1993 as a T&O technician, became a minority owner in 2006, and then took full ownership of the firm in 2013.
Carrothers noted that in addition to running his business, Steed has been an active PCOC (Pest Control Operators of California) member, who has testified before state senate and assembly committees on behalf of PCOC on six different occasions. Steed also serves as California’s SPAR (State Policy Affairs Representative) with NPMA.
In accepting the award Steed commented, “I love our industry. I think we are quintessentially American. We are citizens who form companies and work in companies and provide a critical service to the public. I’m very honored to have received this award and look forward to continue to work with you.” — Brad Harbison
Copesan’s Ramsey Recognized as Pest Vets ‘Veteran of the Year’
Dave Ramsey, service quality manager at Copesan Services, was recognized as the fourth-ever Pest Vets ‘Veteran of the Year,’ during NPMA Legislative Day.
“This year’s Pest Vet Veteran of the Year is dedicated to supporting veterans. He is a leader and a deacon in his church and gives back to his community through many philanthropic activities,” said FMC Market Specialist Arnold Ramsey (no relation).
As part of NPMA Pest Vets committee, Dave Ramsey was instrumental in last October’s Pest Vets “Day of Service” at PestWorld, in which committee members volunteered their time with disabled veterans at Orlando’s VA facility. Ramsey served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1990 to 1994 as part of multiple military campaigns including Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Fox and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. He also was a part of relief efforts in Los Angeles following a 1994 earthquake.
When Ramsey returned to civilian life, he was mowing lawns when he was approached about an opportunity in pest control. Prior to Copesan, Ramsey worked for several pest control companies, including Varment Guard in Columbus. In accepting the award he credited Scott Steckel (Varment Guard), Ward Combs (Presto-X) and Copesan President Deni Naumann for helping him succeed in the pest control industry.
NPMA’s Pest Vets Committee was created four years ago and its goal is to promote the recruitment of veterans to member companies and supports those recruitment efforts through various education and training opportunities.
NPMA CEO Dominique Stumpf announced that during the past year the association launched a partnership program with RecruitMilitary, which helps employers connect with veterans. Under this new partnership, NPMA members receive steep discounts on job postings and a 15% discount at RecruitMilitary career fairs and other events aimed at recruiting and hiring. — Brad Harbison