Urban fertilizer program bill moves to full Senate

January 23, 2020

By unanimous votes, Senator Monty Mason’s SB 849 has passed both the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee and will now head to the full Senate for consideration.

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.  This bill 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 Commissioner of VDACS to help administer an urban fertilizer program.  It is purely permissive in nature.

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.

SB 849 is a part of the Northam Administration’s legislative package relating to natural resources and the Chesapeake Bay.  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.

SB 849 will be introduced later this week on the Senate floor and will likely be voted on next week.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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