Legislative Update

Prepared by NYAFEC Lobbyists
Todd H. Vandervort, The Vandervort Group, LLC
Rick Zimmerman, Zimmerman & Associates

The New Political Reality

New York was a victim of the Great Blue Wave. Statehouses throughout the US received overwhelming Democratic majorities when the dust settled from the 2018 elections and New York is no exception. For only the third time in 50 years, the NYS Senate flipped from red to blue and did so in a very dramatic fashion.

One of the first significant signs of change occurred on Primary Day 2018 when five of the six former Senate Independent Democratic Caucus members, including IDC Leader Jeffery Klein, lost to upstart primary challengers. Yet the new world order didn't really hit until six of the nine Long Island Senatorial Districts, which were held by Republicans two years ago, fell into Democratic hands. The Senate Democrats have a clear majority, holding 40 of the 63 seats, and are likely to hold this majority for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the leadership in both the Assembly and Senate carry a heavy metro New York influence which accentuates our political and policy challenges. Welcome to the new world!

New strategies, messaging and alliances have played significant roles in our advocacy work this year. Legislative staffers, new to our issue areas and to their responsibilities, have been empowered to make decisions directly impacting our industry. Our new workload required us to develop credibility and trust among folks that have not worked with us before, let alone understand the issues they are now responsible for. All this effort had to be completed within a relatively short timeframe.

State Budget

The first annual legislative task is to address the State's spending plan which must be adopted by April first. The Governor's proposed budget was released mid-January and the legislature had about 9 weeks to digest it, listen to constituents and special interest groups (like us), determine their spending priorities and then negotiate a final plan with the Governor. Again, the new "kids on the block" had to learn their positions and roles prior to being able to carry out their responsibilities. Timing was short!

Fortunately, the Governor's budget included an additional five million dollars for ag and hort programs, potentially easing the burden on lawmakers to find additional funds to close the annual gap between the Governor's numbers and what the legislature wanted to spend. Agriculture Committee chairs, Senator Jen Metzger and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo became champions for most of the our industry's program priorities including the Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Fund, Integrated Pest Management, including Community IPM, the Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP) and the Pollinator Management Plan. Both the Senate and Assembly spending plans (one house budgets) included sufficient funds to address the ag/ hort priorities. However, during the final negotiation sessions, it became clear that promised funds were not materializing and certain ag/hort programs were facing severe cutbacks. Assemblywoman Lupardo would not accept anything less than status quo funding for the programs she was championing and successfully went to the wall for the industry.

When the dust settled after the negotiations, our priorities were intact, and funding was restored to previous years' levels. These results did not happen without an attempt by Assembly negotiators to inject an anti-pesticide definition of IPM into the State Budget. Fortunately, the Senate and Governor's negotiators knew they were coming and thwarted their efforts. Therefore, the TESF was funded at $150,000, IPM received $1 million, Community IPM: $550,000, PMEP: $250,000, Pollinator Management Plan: $500,000. All told, the industry received over $26 million to support a long list of programs intended to bolster, promote, educate, support and fund research for the agriculture/horticulture industry. Assemblywoman Lupardo, Senator Metzger and several other members of the Senate and Assembly deserve recognition and credit for prioritizing our industry during the budget negotiations.

Pesticide Bans

Pesticide ban bills took on a new life with both houses controlled by Democrats. Environmental groups' pesticide ban priorities were now being prioritized by both houses and chlorpyrifos, glyphosate and neonicotinoids were on the hit list.

The chairs of the Assembly and Senate Environmental Conservation Committees, Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator Todd Kaminsky, could wield almost total control over the legislature's environmental priorities and they quickly decided that banning Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban/ Dursban) (A2477-B/S5343 by Englebright / Kaminsky) was a priority. The industry jumped into action attempting to educate new Senate legislators and staffers of the great peril the state faces if this active ingredient were to be banned. The range of uses stretches from apples to zucchinis, including turfgrass. (Golf course superintendents sometimes use Dursban in a rotational program on the annual bluegrass weevil and for tick control.)

The coordination efforts between the two Encon Committee Chairs lead to both houses passing the chlorpyrifos ban bills on the day designated as "Earth Day". The Assembly entertained no public hearing or organized stakeholder meeting and the Senate made one small attempt to hear from two "experts" one from the environmentalists' side, and one from the industry, during one EnCon Committee meeting. Senator Jen Metzger attempted to negotiate amendments to save "critical" agriculture uses and we argued that turfgrass management was a critical use. At the end of the day, none of her amendments were accepted, but the bill includes a temporary exclusion for fruit tree trunk application. (Not sure where that language came from).

The bill is currently waiting to be sent to the Governor for his consideration and the industry has been involved in a grassroots campaign to get letters to the Governor expressing the importance of the product and the fact that DEC has the authority to regulate the use of the chemical. Therefore, the Governor should veto the bill and let his environmental conservation agency do its job. Meetings with the Governor's Office will continue until he addresses the bill.

Fortunately, the remaining pesticide ban bills did not receive final consideration before the legislature recessed for the year. Therefore, bills that would ban glyphosate, neonicotinoids, Methoprene, atrazine, metalaxyl, and 1,4 dioxane remain in play for the new year and will be impacted by the Governor's decision on chlorpyrifos. Stay tuned!

In addition to pesticide bans, there were several bills that restricted the use of certain pesticides in specific locations. For example, Assemblywoman Paulin and Senator Carlucci have a bill to restrict pesticide use at summer camps and day camps. Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Senator Serrano have a bill to ban glyphosate on state property. An earlier version of the bill restricted glyphosate at parks, playgrounds and picnic areas. These bills were not considered by their respective environmental conservation committee but will remain in play through next year.

LI Nitrogen Restriction Legislation

Proposed state policy to restrict the amount of nitrogen applied to lawns has been floating about since 2017 when Assemblyman Steve Englebright introduced a bill to mandate a nitrogen limit of 12% per bag sold for commercial and residential lawns. NYAFEC joined with other industry stakeholders to keep the legislature from adopting this poorly conceived idea and former Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon hosted a roundtable discussion on the matter during the spring of 2018 which NYAFEC was a part of. Hannon attempted to thread the political needle with a compromise bill that satisfied no one and the bill died under its own weight in the spring of 2018.

Last fall the NY DEC commenced a work group of industry and environmental reps to discuss the issue and formulate recommendations that purportedly were to be introduced into legislation. NYAFEC chairman, Larry Wilson, along with several members of the LI nursery and landscape community, including Pat and Patricia Voges and Tom Kaplun who represents the Long Island Golf Course Superintendents Association and the NYS Turfgrass Association, actively participated in the workgroup. One of the significant elements of the group consensus was formulating science-based nitrogen application recommendations rather than the politically expedient notion of limiting the amount of nitrogen per bag. The work group completed its task late 2018 and DEC transcribed the recommendations into a bill draft but was never introduced in either the Assembly or Senate.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator Todd Kaminsky reintroduced the 2018 nitrogen limit per bag bill (A.4568, S.2130) which received strong opposition from NYAFEC in lieu of the fact that, once again lawmakers were not listening to industry experts and attempting to impose a per bag limit of nitrogen under the guise that this approach will solve the problem of excess nitrogen applications on lawns. We worked to inform Englebright and Kaminsky that this approach will only frustrate homeowners because their lawns will not remain healthy and vibrant which will lead to more bags of fertilizer being applied to Long Island lawns. Englebright made no attempt to modify his bill, but Senator Kaminsky did work on some amendments which did not receive a hearing from the Environmental Conservation Committee before the end of session. Neither house introduced the DEC program bill, so the issue will likely be in play next year.

IPM Definition:

Several bills were introduced in the Assembly and Senate to legally define integrated pest management as a way to advance an anti-pesticide agenda. These bills, including A.3463 (Zebrowski), A.5655 (Englebright) and S.5011 (Parker), prescribe an IPM program for specific applications and do so by creating an IPM definition that would apply to all IPM practices. The definitions would typically render pesticides to the bottom of the IPM toolbox by allowing their use as the last alternative or requiring pesticides of "least risk" be used as a last alternative. All these definitions attempt to thwart the fundamental concept of integrated pest management: to give trained pest management experts the best tools to effectively control pests through a range of methods, including chemical pesticides, which minimize environmental and human risk.

A list of our high priority bills and their final statuses follows this report.

DEC Part 320 Series Regulatory Review

The NYS DEC commenced earlier this year a review of regulations impacting the use of pesticides in NYS. NYCRR Parts 320 - 329 guide the use of pesticides in New York and DEC is required to update them to reflect changes in the federal certified applicator regs. In addition, DEC is considering updates on pesticide application, registration and classification regulations in addition to further guidance on pesticide use in aquatic settings. This regulatory area significantly impacts our industry and we need to be at the table to assure thoughtful, practical, feasible regulations.

A regulatory review "kickoff" session was held last January and several NYAFEC members and leaders attended one of several meeting sites. Access meeting documents HERE. DEC intends to commence stakeholder sessions this fall and NYAFEC will be part of this effort. In the meantime, the NYAFEC Board established a workgroup of leaders, including Pat and Patricia Voges, Don Burton, Larry Wilson and Beth Seme to "dig into the weeds" of the regulations to prepare input for DEC. Please contact Lauren Quirk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if interested in being part of this regulation review process.

GREENPAC:

NYAFEC's political success is a function of several factors, including our PAC's ability to support those elected officials who show up and actively work for our interests. Election campaigns are expensive and completely funded by private sources. Therefore, every dollar and the source of every dollar impacts a legislator's attitude and orientation towards public policy once the campaign is over. We encourage all NYAFEC members to actively support GREENPAC because collectively we can have an impact on those we want to support.

This year in particular points to the fact that we need to educate and inform legislators, especially new legislators, to give them the tools and information they need to make an informed decision on our priority issues. With so many bills significantly impacting our industry still in play, we need to engage with legislators by supporting their political campaigns and committees.

Personal contributions are now unlimited or corporate contributions (up to $5,000) can be made to GREENPAC and sent to:

GREENPAC
Attn: Michael Maffei, CGCS - Treasurer
PO Box 90
Brewster, NY 10509

For more information about NYAFEC, its mission and goals, please visit our website at www.nyafec.org or contact NYAFEC President Larry Wilson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

End of Session Bill Status

Chlorpyrifos: S.5343 (was same as S.2156A)/A.2477-B (Kaminsky/Englebright) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos
Senate: Passed (S.2156 - rules)
Assembly: Passed

IPM: S.920/A.3632 (Young/Gunther) Support
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to providing the definition of integrated pest management
Senate: Enacting Clause Stricken
Assembly: EnCon

Glyphosate: S.6502 (Serrano) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the use of glyphosate on state property
Senate: Rules
A.732-A (Rosenthal)
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the use of glyphosate on state property
Assembly: Rules

Glyphosate: S.223/A.6877 (Hoylman/Steck) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to instituting a moratorium on the distribution, sale or use of glyphosate until a task force completes a study regarding the safety, alternatives and use of such compound
Senate: EnCon
Assembly: EnCon

Glyphosate: S.225/A.6899 (Hoylman/Steck) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the sale and distribution of glyphosate and products containing glyphosate
Senate: EnCon
Assembly: EnCon

Neonicotinoids: S.1074 (Hoylman) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the use of the chemicals atrazine, metalaxyl and the neonicotinoids class of chemicals
Senate: EnCon

Model Pesticide Policy: A.3465 (Zebrowski) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to the development of a model pesticide policy
Assembly: EnCon

IPM: A.4527 (Englebright) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the education law, in relation to integrated pest management requirements for schools
Assembly: Ed

Pesticides at Summer Day camps: S.1145/A.1051 (Carlucci/Paulin) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the public health law and the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the use of pesticides at children's overnight or summer day camp
Senate: Health
Assembly: 3rd Reading

Nitrogen Bill: S.2130/A.4568 (Kaminsky/Englebright) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to the sale or use of nitrogen fertilizer
Senate: EnCon
Assembly: 3rd Reading

Neonic Ban: S.5816 (Hoylman) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to enacting the birds and bees protection act
Senate: EnCon
A.7639-A (Englebright)
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to enacting the birds and bees protection act
Assembly: W/M

Glyphosate/Aminomethylphosphonic Study: A.593 (Rosenthal) Oppose
TITLE... An act to direct the department of health to study the potential health risks and effects of glyphosate and its by-product aminomethylphosphonic acid
Assembly: Health

Golf Course Tax Status: S.4420/A.6444 (Carlucci/Galef) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the real property tax law, in relation to the taxable status date and the assessment of golf courses
Senate: Local Gov't
Assembly: Codes

Integrated Pest Management: A.3668 (Gunther) Support
TITLE... An act to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to providing the definition of integrated pest management
Assembly: Agriculture

Pesticide Data Compilation: A.4089 (Englebright) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to compilation of data on pesticides
Assembly: EnCon

Children's Products: S.501-B/A.6296-A (Kaminsky/Englebright) Oppose
TITLE... An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to regulation of toxic chemicals in children's products
Senate: Passed
Assembly: Passed