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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

PLNA Has Successful Legislative Session

Wednesday, November 14, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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CapitolThe 2017-2018 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly will end sine die on November 30. No further legislative activity is expected before the end of the session.

This legislative session has been productive for the green industry, although several key bills will die when the session ends.

Following are the PLNA supported bills that passed and were signed into law by the governor:

Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (Act 46 of 2017) - On October 30, 2017 Governor Wolf signed into law the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act. The new law revamps the old Noxious Weed Act and broadens the power of the Department of Agriculture to regulate plants in Pennsylvania.

This new law significantly expands the power of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to regulate plants. While plants could be banned from possession and sale under the old Noxious Weed Act, the new law also allows plants to be regulated through a licensure process under a Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Board.

This new law was many years in the making. At PDA’s invitation, PLNA began working with the Department on drafts of the law over seven years ago. After many drafts, PLNA’s comments and concerns were incorporated in to the bill finally signed by the governor. PLNA was successful in getting a seat for the green industry on the new plant board.

Read a summary of the new law here.

Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence (Act 55 of 2017) – This commission was created to focus the efforts of the Departments of Agriculture and Education on creating a plan for agricultural education in the state. The major responsibility of the Commission is to create a state-wide curriculum for agricultural education. The commission is just now beginning to form and is comprised of the secretaries of Agriculture and Education, farmers, educators and other government officials.

Exempting High Tunnels from the Stormwater Management Act (Act 15 of 2018) – Act 15 exempts high tunnels from the Stormwater Management Act (SMA) under the following conditions:

·  The coverage of the high tunnels and other impervious structures do not comprise more than 25% of the owner’s contiguous land area on which the high tunnels are located; and

·  One of the following conditions are met:

·  The high tunnel is located at least 100 feet from any perennial stream or watercourse, public road or neighboring property line; or

·  The high tunnel is located at least 35 feet from any perennial stream or watercourse, public road or neighboring property line and located on land with a slope not greater than 7%; or

·  The high tunnel is supported with a buffer or diversion system that does not directly drain into a stream or other watercourse by managing storm water runoff in a manner consistent with requirements of the SMA.

The following bill was opposed by PLNA and will die at the end of the session:

Regulating the Application of Fertilizer (SB 792) – This bill sought to regulate the application of fertilizer, particularly lawn fertilizer. PLNA estimated that the bill, as written would cost the industry $5 million a year and would not provide any environmental benefits. For more information on this bill, click here.

The following bills were supported by PLNA, but will die at the end of the session:

Growing Greener III (HB 503SB 705) - PLNA supported legislation that will reauthorize the Growing Greener Program. The Growing Greener Program provides funding for tree plantings, riparian buffers and other green infrastructure projects. Budget concerns have slowed the progress of this legislation and neither bill moved out of committee.

Commercial Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation (HB 624) – PLNA is supported legislation to limit the liability of snow removal contractors. Recently, property managers have begun including in their contracts with snow removal contractors clauses that place liability for accidental slips, trips and falls on snow contractors, even though the contractor had nothing to do with those accidents. This has led to sky-rocketing liability insurance premiums for snow removal contractors. The legislation was bottled up in the House Insurance Committee due to opposition from the retailers’ association and the trial lawyers’ association.

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