OhioPLANT successfully amended language into House Bill 507, sponsored by Rep. Kyle Koehler, that preempts local governments from banning or regulating the sale, purchase, storage, distribution, use, or application of a registered pesticide on private property and private property open to the public (golf courses). HB 507 was passed by the General Assembly in December and signed into law by Governor DeWine on January 6. It will take effect around April 6.
The need for this amendment was brought to OhioPLANT’s attention by one of its members, Ryan DeMay, President of the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation, who informed OhioPLANT that an out of state environmental extremist group called Beyond Pesticide was lobbying a suburb of Columbus to ban pesticide on its property. Like many of these types of groups, Beyond Pesticide will lobby local governments to enact ordinances to carry out their agendas. In this case, Beyond Pesticide advocates that local governments adopt their model municipal resolution/ordinance to ban the use of pesticide on local government property, such as metro park ball fields or city buildings for example. However, it is their model resolution that, in addition to local government property, bans pesticide use on private property with an unworkable exception, along with the information from Ryan DeMay of their action in the Columbus suburb, that caused OhioPLANT to act. To protect its members and the public from being robbed of the use of pesticides, OhioPLANT drafted the preemption language and went to work in the summer.
OhioPLANT developed the legislative strategy to move the preemption language and identified HB 507 to be the vehicle for the amendment. Rep. Koehler supported our idea and language and graciously gave the green light to amend his HB 507, which had passed the House and was in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. OhioPLANT’s lobbyist met with the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, securing support for the amendment and of Senator Bob Peterson to carry the amendment in committee. Ohio Turfgrass Foundation lobbyists also spoke with members of the House and Senate about the importance of this issue.
The Senate Agriculture Committee amended the language into HB 507 and favorably voted the bill out on December 6 with the full Senate passing the bill the next day. After the House concurred with the changes to HB 507, it was sent to Governor DeWine. However, there were other amendments that had been added to the bill that caused doubt if Governor DeWine would sign the bill or possibly veto it. An oil and gas amendment had been added in committee and there was immense pressure from environmental groups, along with the press, to veto the bill. Groups also raised questions with the Governor’s office about the preemption language harming the environment and the Governor’s H2Ohio program.
OhioPLANT addressed the water quality issue with two memos to the Governor explaining why this was not an issue. Most importantly, OhioPLANT’s lobbyist called the Governor and texted his personal cell to tell him how important the preemption language was to our industries and that a veto of HB 507 because of the oil and gas amendment would harm other groups like OhioPLANT who were counting on HB 507’s passage. OhioPLANT’s lobbyist spoke to the Governor in person at an event on January 3, again reiterating the need for the preemption language to head off groups like Beyond Pesticide. Thankfully, Governor DeWine signed the bill into law later that week.
This is a major win for our members and demonstrates the importance of OhioPLANT and how members bringing issues to light can result in legislative success. OhioPLANT thanks Rep. Koehler, Senator (now Representative) Bob Peterson, Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Sen. Tim Schaffer, the members of the Senate and House who voted for HB 507, and Governor DeWine.