A bill currently making its way through the West Virginia legislature would negatively affect public health and safety, as well as how commercial pest control applicators are regulated in the state.
HB 4644 proposes people would be able to commercially apply pesticides without a license and without meeting the minimum federal requirements needed for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to regulate pesticides.
If the bill becomes law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instead of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture would become the chief regulator of pesticides in West Virginia, under federal law. That means pest control in West Virginia would be regulated out of the EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia, Pa.
Allowing the EPA to regulate pesticides in West Virginia would cause “regulatory chaos,” the West Virginia Pest Management Association (WVPMA) said in a letter it sent West Virginia senators who will be voting on the bill, as well as the governor who could veto it if it passes, providing reasons why it should not be enacted. The WVPMA also noted HB 4644 would “empower unscrupulous operators” as applicators would not be required to undergo training, regulation, licensing or carry insurance.
Unregulated, unlicensed, and untrained applicators using pesticides incorrectly would have “potentially lethal consequences” and “create a legal gray area” the WVPMA’s letter added. “Consumers who hire unqualified companies to inspect or treat their homes for termites face the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage with no safety recourse if minimal insurance requirements are not required,” the letter offered as an example. “If the people who perform pesticide applications aren’t properly trained, the risks to humans, non-target animals and the environment are increased.”
“Voter Voice is a great tool because many times, folks in our industry want to reach their representatives but they may not have the contact information or know quite what to say,” Ashley Amidon, CAE, VP of public policy for the NPMA, says.
Taking action via Voter Voice allows users to fill out a form that includes the information about the issue and send it directly to lawmakers. “In the long term, it builds great advocates in our industry,” she says. “When we’ve got an immediate legislative issue, it’s a way to funnel a lot of voices very quickly into a [lawmaker’s] office.”
HB 4644 was introduced in the West Virginia legislature on Feb. 11, 2022, and is sponsored by Republican representatives Geoff Foster and co-sponsored by Shannon Kimes and Brandon Steele. Eleven days later, it passed in the House and is now up for vote in the Senate.