State Legislative Review and Forecast

state legislative review and forecast

Threats to the structural pest management industry are more present than ever. With each passing year, the opposition is more organized. Anti-industry legislation continues to multiply in state legislatures. Statewide pesticide bans, local governments regulating pesticides and landlord-tenant bed bug legislation all have the potential to make or break your business. But the industry has never been more ready to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. In 2021, NPMA dominated at the state level thanks to the cooperation, energy and execution of our state pest control associations and State Policy Affairs Representatives (SPARs).

In order to reach the same level of success in 2022, we can’t afford to have members sitting on the sidelines. We must engage, strategize and show up to defend our industry. Industries that are involved in public policy the least lose the most.


State legislatures are the battlegrounds for pesticide policymaking, and the drive for banning or restricting pesticides in state legislatures continues to be relentless every legislative session. One issue that our industry encounters the most is neonicotinoid ban or restriction legislation. Through our advocacy, structural pest control is rarely impacted by these proposals, but they require a lot of engagement from our industry.

Since 2016, four state legislatures have enacted neonicotinoid pesticide restriction bills into law and approximately 50 bills have been introduced to restrict or ban neonicotinoid pesticides. Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont have restricted some or all neonicotinoid pesticides to professional applicators only, also designating them as Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs), through the legislature. Only Massachusetts has restricted neonicotinoids through rulemaking by classifying lawn care neonics as Restricted Use. However, designating neonics as RUPs used to be the furthest extent of restricting neonics until January 2020, when EPA released a proposed interim decision on neonicotinoid pesticides that called for relatively significant mitigation on non-structural uses of neonicotinoids (e.g., lawn care, agriculture, etc.).

Now, we are finding that states are moving away from restricting neonics to professionals, only to banning neonics for both consumers and professional applicators. Maine banned neonics in residential landscapes in May (the fourth state to restrict neonics), and both New Jersey and New York are considering bills that would ban neonics for lawn care uses (consumer and professional industry). Structural pest control is exempt from the bans. However, this shift in policy is noteworthy as states legislating pesticides becomes more common. For 2022, additional member engagement is going to be vital for our success.
Neonicotinoid State Watchlist for 2022: IL, NJ, NM, NY and RI


Currently, 46 states preempt or prevent local governments from regulating pesticides. Regulating pesticides at the state level is a fundamental pillar to the success of the structural pest management industry. In states that allow local governments to regulate pesticides, PMPs battle daily with vastly differing, conflicting, confusing and overlapping pesticide regulations that change from municipality to municipality, while the bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents and other pests do not differ and respect local government boundaries. In states that prevent local governments from regulating pesticides, our industry must mount an impenetrable defense of existing state law, as attempts to chip away at pesticide preemption laws in state legislatures continue to mount. Many of the preemption repeal proposals in states do not provide protections for protecting public health, which is in stark contrast to Canadian provinces, which do have pesticide preemption for structural pest control and other public health uses of pesticides.

Fun fact: Canadian provinces have pesticide preemption. For example, British Columbia has pesticide preemption for the following pesticide uses (includes structural pest control):

  • For the management of pests that transmit human diseases
  • On the residential areas of farms
  • To buildings or inside buildings
  • On land used for agriculture, forestry, transportation, public utilities or pipelines unless the public utility or pipeline is vested in the municipality

A prominent example of a state aiming to repeal pesticide preemption without public health or property protections is Minnesota. As the only divided state legislature (House: Democratic-controlled and Senate: Republican-controlled) since 2019, it unfortunately has set up partisan showdowns that tend to produce bad policy. The tactic of packing standalone anti-pesticide legislation into larger bills like budgets or omnibus legislation is quite an alarming precedent in Minnesota.

In 2019, a bill that would have allowed the four largest cities in Minnesota to regulate pesticides was inserted into a large agriculture omnibus package and passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but subsequently failed in conference committee with the Republican-controlled Senate. In 2020 and 2021, the pesticide preemption repeal proposal shifted from allowing the four largest cities to allowing all 853 cities to ban the outdoor applications of pesticides with a pollinator advisory language on the label. Again, in 2021, with HF 718, the standalone pesticide preemption repeal bill was inserted into a large environment omnibus bill and passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. The provision died in conference committee due to the opposition of Senate Republicans.

If this Minnesota pesticide preemption repeal legislation would have been enacted into law, most termiticides would have been banned that are required for HUD-mandated termite treatments for FHA and VA loans. Even the Minnesota Realtors Association expressed concern for the real estate market, but the Minnesota House of Representatives was undeterred and still passed the bill anyway. Additionally, this legislation would have banned ALL structural pest control’s exterior uses of these pesticide products even though the science illustrates that structural pest control’s uses of pesticides in, around and on buildings poses a negligible risk to pollinators—the science was ignored. Furthermore, this bill would have banned most products used in mosquito and tick treatments. In a state where mosquito-borne and tick-borne illnesses are on the rise, this legislation would have left more Minnesotans vulnerable to Lyme disease, West Nile virus and other vector-borne diseases. Additionally, this bill would have empowered illegal pest control companies and diluted state regulatory authority because all 853 cities are not equipped to enforce these pesticide bans, which is a great opportunity for illegal pest control companies and non-licensed individuals to fill the void in the pest control market. Structural pest control aimed at protecting public health and property is severely weakened under schemes like HF 718 that repeal pesticide preemption.

It is hard enough to communicate with and conduct outreach to one state legislature. If pesticide preemption is repealed in your state, the structural pest control industry would have to communicate and conduct outreach to hundreds, if not thousands of local governments. Pesticide preemption is arguably the most important issue for the structural pest control industry because it can drastically alter who regulates the pest control industry and what tools we have available to protect public health and property.
State Pesticide Preemption Repeal Watchlist in 2022: CA, CT, MA, MN, NY and VA


NPMA and state associations are working with legislators to modernize landlord-tenant bed bug laws in states. The fault-based standards of many state laws actually encourage bed bug infestations since it is virtually impossible to attribute who is at fault and where bed bugs came from. Oftentimes, the attributing of fault delays treatment, causes infestations to worsen and jeopardizes public health. In order to correct this, the states of Colorado, Connecticut and Maine have brought their bed bug laws into the 21st century by using science and prescribing duties and responsibilities to landlords, tenants and PMPs. Since the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) endorsed the entomologically based Colorado bed bug law last December, five states in 2021 (IN, MA, MI, NE and NJ) have introduced similar bed bug bills that require PMPs to perform bed bug inspections and treatments in landlord-tenant housing. Through our advocacy, we expect several more states to introduce bed bug bills in 2022. It is great to see state legislators stepping up to protect their constituents with these effective, science-based policies that recognize the professional pest control industry as a private-sector solution to this public health problem.
State Bed Bug Legislation Watchlist in 2022: DE, IN, MA, MD, MI, NE, NJ, NY, OR, RI and WA