Local government urban fertilizer program bill advances out of House subcommittee

February 18, 2020

After unanimously passing the Senate, SB 849 (Mason) has successfully taken its first steps in the House of Delegates, surviving the Chesapeake Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.  The bill 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 (Mason) 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.  It is purely permissive in nature.  Prior to the bill’s introduction, the 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.

In addition to the local option to work with VDACS, 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.

VACo spoke in favor of SB 849 and will continue to support the bill before the full House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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