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Local government urban fertilizer bill heads to Senate floor

Senator Monty Mason’s bill about local government urban fertilizer programs reported out of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday morning by a 17-5 vote.

SB 849 (Mason) authorizes local governments to enter into agreements with the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to provide oversight and data collection assistance related to the requirements of certified lawn fertilizer contractor-applicators.

SB 849 is one of the Northam Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) bills and is simply designed to give a local government the option to work with the VDACS Commissioner to help administer an urban fertilizer program.  In addition to this local option, the bill also reduces from 100 to 50 the total number of acres of nonagricultural land to which a contractor-applicator may apply lawn fertilizer and lawn maintenance fertilizer annually without submitting an annual report to the Commissioner. The bill also increases from $250 to $1,000 the civil penalty imposed on a contractor-applicator for a violation of applicable regulations.

Senator Mason’s legislation is purely permissive in nature.  Prior to the bill’s introduction, the Northam Administration worked with VACo to ensure that the authority to enter into agreements with VDACS to administer an urban fertilizer program was drafted as a local option, not a mandate.

VACo supports SB 849, which will now be voted on by the full Senate early next week.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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