Recent Redraft of Noxious Weed Law Improves but Still Needs Work
Friday, August 22, 2014
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) recently released a fourth draft of a proposed rewrite of the state’s Noxious Weed Law. In this latest draft, some but not all of PLNA’s concerns with earlier drafts have been addressed (See PLNA e-News May, 2014).
Among PLNA’s concerns with the prior draft:
There was no guaranteed position for a representative of the landscape and nursery industry on the Noxious Weed and Controlled Plant Committee (NWCPC), the body that will make decisions about placing plants on the noxious weed and controlled plant lists.
Under the third draft, the landscape and nursery industry would have to “share” a position with the forestry and wood products industry.
Under the current draft, the “ornamental, turf and horticultural” industry would have its own representative.
The governmental members of the NWCPC may have alternates, but the public members may not.
PLNA pointed out that it is unfair that public members of the committee, who volunteer their time, are not permitted to have alternates attend the meeting if they could not attend. On the other hand, governmental representatives on the committee, who are paid by tax payers to attend such meetings, may have alternates attend in their place.
This has not been addressed in the current draft.
Under the third draft, public members of the NWCPC may only serve a four year term while governmental representatives may serve indefinite terms.
This has not been addressed in the current draft. Public members are held to a four year term.
There are strict attendance requirements for the public members of the NWCPC, while there are no attendance requirements for the governmental representatives.
The third draft also contains procedures to remove a public member for attendance lapses, while no such procedures apply to the governmental members.
This issue has not been addressed in the current draft.
There is no provision for public review and comment before a plant is added to the list of noxious and controlled plants list.
Under the third draft, once a plant is listed and published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the decision is final. There is no established public comment period during the decision-making process.
The current draft does contain a provision to have lists of plants to be considered at a NWCPC meeting to be made public through publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin one week before the meeting. Presumably, the public and industry could make their concerns known at the meeting. In addition, plants approved for inclusion in a list under the Noxious Weed Law will be effective in sixty days after they are published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
PLNA will continue to work with PDA to advocate for the changes requested, but not made in the current draft.
To download a copy of the current draft of the Noxious Weed Law, click here. If you have comments, please call (800.898.3411 x101) or email Gregg Robertson at PLNA.