Troubling pesticide restriction bill introduced

January 14, 2020

A bill restricting a locality’s use of pesticides for certain bug infestations has been introduced for a second year.

HB 1204 (Tran) seeks to prohibit localities from spraying pesticides intended to suppress an infestation of the fall cankerworm on any property unless the owner of the property requests such spraying through an opt-in program operated by the locality.  Currently, state law allows property owners to opt out of such spraying, so the change introduced by this bill would put a new burden on local governments with spraying programs.  Today, only a few localities have reported issues with cankerworms and even have a spraying program, but beyond the impact this bill would have on those localities, there is additional concern about the troubling precedent that this bill may set.

As previously noted, this bill is not the first time this issue has been raised in the General Assembly.  In 2019, Delegate Tran introduced HB 2495, a broader bill that sought to entirely prohibit localities from spraying pesticides intended to suppress an infestation of the fall cankerworm during the period between March 1 and August 1.  Ultimately, a substitute was introduced and accepted for this bill that did away with this March through August prohibition and instead introduced the opt-out measure that has been reintroduced this year.  By a narrow 5-4 vote along party lines, this measure was defeated.

If you have any thoughts or input to offer on this measure, please contact VACo staff.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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