GOP dominates in state legislative elections and state issues facing PMPs in 2021.
Donald Trump helped delivery a disaster for Democrats in state legislatures as his supporters assisted Republicans with a plethora of down-ballot victories. Going into Election Day, Democrats were feeling very optimistic that they would gain control of many state legislative chambers. The Cook Political Report had 14 of 19 Republican-controlled state legislative chambers on their watch list for a potential flip. The opposite happened; only Republicans gained control of legislative chambers (as of 11/6). In New Hampshire, both chambers flipped to deliver a Republican trifecta (control of House, Senate and Governor’s office). In Montana, Republican candidate Rep. Greg Gianforte won the Governor’s race, earning Republicans a trifecta there. Republicans are looking at having 23 state government trifectas and Democrats having 15.
Our industry had a close eye on Arizona, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania going into the election. Democrats were hoping to deliver Democratic trifectas in Minnesota, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and flip both chambers in Arizona. Additionally, Democrats were hoping for a supermajority in the New York Senate, but they lost seats, not gained them.
In Arizona, at the time of this writing (November 6), it is still possible for Democrats to flip either, both or no chambers, as votes are still being counted. Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey would maintain his veto power as a check on the Democratic legislature if they flip it. In 2020, bills were introduced to ban neonicotinoid pesticides and another bill would designate neonicotinoids as restricted use. Neonicotinoid pesticides are important for managing bed bugs, cockroaches, flies, termites and other structural pests. Even though structural pest control use patterns of neonicotinoids that are not a threat to pollinators, we may be impacted by introduced legislation, so it is a critical issue to monitor.
ISSUES THAT THE PEST CONTROL INDUSTRY WILL LIKELY FACE INCLUDE:
- Repealing pesticide preemption (allowing local governments to regulate pesticides) States to watch based on past attempts: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin introduced legislation in 2019-2020.
- Neonicotinoid ban or restriction legislation (products used to manage bed bugs, cockroaches, flies, termites and other structural pests) States to watch based on past attempts: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
- Rodenticide ban or restriction legislation States to watch based on past attempts and observed activity: California, Massachusetts and Washington.
- Occupational licensing reform (excessive de-regulation of pesticide applicator licensing standards can harm the industry) States to watch based on past attempts: Tennessee and West Virginia.
- Sales tax on pest control services States to watch based on past attempts: South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming.
In Minnesota, Republicans maintained control of the chamber, which is very significant because they only had a two-seat majority separating them and a Democratic-trifecta in the state. Minnesota is one of several states where there were efforts to repeal pesticide preemption in recent years. Pesticide preemption is vital for the professional structural pest control industry because we may operate in many local government jurisdictions in a single day, managing bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents, termites and other structural pests to protect public health and property. Therefore, it is important to operate under the same set of pesticide regulations. For example, why should there be a different set of regulations for managing bed bugs, cockroaches and rodents from town to town? In 2019, an attempt to allow for the four largest cities to regulate pesticides was narrowly defeated. In 2020, several other pesticide preemption repeal bills were introduced and considered in the House but did not advance past the first committee.
In New York, Democrats were hoping to join California, Hawaii and Rhode Island with a supermajority in both legislative chambers and a Democratic governor. This did not happen, as Republicans gained seats. However, Democrats still have a democratic-trifecta and introduced bills to restrict neonicotinoids, repeal pesticide preemption and other legislation of interest. The failure to reach a supermajority by the Democrats is significant because Governor Andrew Cuomo is not afraid to veto legislation that he disagrees with.
In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, it was possible for Democrats to flip legislative chambers and create Democratic trifectas as both states have Democratic governors (North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) won re-election). Democrats were unsuccessful, as Republicans actually gained seats. Legislators introduced bills in both states in years past to designate neonicotinoids as restricted use pesticides (RUPs).
We expect most of our legislative engagement in 2021 to be in the 15 Democratic trifectas plus Massachusetts and Vermont, as they have Democratic-controlled legislatures and very moderate Republican governors. We will be involved in states with divided governments, but these states are more likely to experience gridlock. Additionally, we anticipate a certain level of engagement in the 23 Republican trifectas on the issue of occupational licensing reform, as attempts to deregulate the licensing of pesticide applicators can emanate from libertarian-wings of the Republican Party.
BY JAKE PLEVELICH, NPMA DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY