Super SPARs recognized for regulatory efforts


October 20, 2020

The members of the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) State Policy Affairs Representatives (SPARs) program were recognized at a Zoom meeting titled Recognizing Super SPARs: The Frontline Defenders of Our Industry held during PestWorld 2020 the evening of Oct. 14.

“The SPARs program represents a culture of hard work, service to the industry, and ultimately earning successful outcomes for the structural pest management industry so that we can continue to protect public health and property,” saidJake Plevelich, National Pest Management Association director of Public Policy, who led the meeting. “The NPMA SPARs dedicate countless time away from their families and businesses to bolster and defend our beloved industry.”

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Jake Plevelich, National Pest Management Association director of Public Policy, leads the Zoom meeting “Recognizing Super SPARs” during PestWorld 2020. IMAGE: PMP STAFF

The Super SPARs recognized for the hard work offer the past year include:

  • New England SPAR Ted Brayton, Griggs & Browne Co. This year, he tackled regulatory issues related to rodenticides, neonicotinoids, pesticide bans, and sales tax on pest control services. He also helped write a bi-partisan bill with Plevelich that requires professional pest control for restaurants in Rhode Island.
  • Colorado SPAR Kevin Lemasters, EnviroPest, for advocating for the industry during the sunset of the pesticide applicator’s act, pushing for a law based on bed bug biology requiring landlords to hire pest management professionals (PMPs) to inspect and treat for bed bugs in landlord-tenant housing, representing the industry on neonicotinoid restriction legislation and educating the bill’s sponsor about the pest control industry’s uses of neonicotinoids, defending the industry from pesticide preemption repeal legislation, and building relationships with key lawmakers in the Colorado legislature.
  • North Carolina Vice SPAR Marty Roberts, Rid-A-Bug Exterminating, whose efforts led to the approval of electronic trap monitoring through the rule making process, and who was key in nuisance wildlife technician legislation that allows for a pro-growth licensing mechanism.
  • Maryland Vice SPAR Andrea Brubaker, American Pest, who testified for the first time before the Maryland legislature and successfully helped defeat a sales tax on pest control services.
  • Michigan SPAR Bill Welsh, Rose Pest Solutions, who tackled several issues, from local governments levying taxes to hire PMPs for mosquito control, to fixing the examination and licensing fiasco during COVID-19, and many others. Each was a success. He also served as a temporary Indiana SPAR, organizing the first legislative day this year to handle administrative penalty legislation.
  • Pennsylvania SPAR Marty Overline, Aardvark Pest Management. He was a key voice for PMPs thanks to his involvement in Philadelphians Against Bed Bugs, a coalition group formed to tackle Philadelphia’s bed bug problem.
  • Arizona SPAR Stu Keenan, KY-KO Pest Prevention, who worked with the Arizona Department of Agriculture on consumer education about illegal pest control operators and helped the Arizona Senate pass a bill that makes it easier for the state to crackdown on illegal pest control companies.
  • Maryland SPAR Brian Schoonmaker, Capitol Pest, for advocating against a county pesticide ordinance requiring 24-hour notifications for all pesticide applications and after application, the posting of signs that would have to be retrieved after seven days.
  • California Co-SPARs Jim Steed, Neighborly Pest Management and Darren Van Steenwyck, Clark Pest Control, for ensuring public health protection tools. such as rodenticides, remain in PMPs’ toolboxes. They have dedicated much time away from their families and businesses to meet with lawmakers and to testify before legislators.

Were it not for COVID-19, these SPARs would have been recognized at a Bayer Crop Science-sponsored reception during PestWorld. This year’s virtual meeting was similar in that it served to express appreciation to SPARs for their dedication and hard work advancing the cause of protecting public health and property.

This is the third year Bayer has sponsored the NPMA’s SPARs reception. This year, Dave Tierney, Bayer Crop Science’s director of government affairs, provided insight on trends seen in government affairs.

He said the number of Republicans serving at the state level the past four years — governors, attorneys general, state representatives — will likely drop as more Democrats are elected this year. He also expects more legislation affecting the pest control industry this year. There have been more than 300 different pieces of legislation, with insecticides leading the pack, he said.

“This past year, we saw another record amount of bills get introduced in state legislative bodies that would prohibit, or somehow limit, our ability to use some of these highly regulated products,” Tierney added.

So, what will 2021 bring? “I assume we will have yet another record next year with more pieces of legislation introduced, and we’ll see where that goes,” he said.

PMPs who want to get involved can start by getting to know their local legislators. Unless you live in Nebraska, you have two members in your state legislature, and they represent you. “They will take your call long before they will take my call, and that’s a great thing,” said Tierney. “They know how they got in to office. They also know they will get out of office if they don’t talk to their constituents.”

Our regulatory system is set up so that state departments of agriculture have the final say on many of the products PMPs use, he added. They can approve a product’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-reviewed label for their state as written, or they can make more — or less — restrictive. “They want to hear from you. They are receptive to phone calls and emails.”

Michigan SPAR Bill Welsh recommended building a relationship with them before you have a concern, because they will be more apt to take your call when something happens.

For more information about the NPMA’s SPARs program, contact Plevelich.


About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 216-706-3793.

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