Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fertilizer Preemption bill - HB 421 to be heard in Committee

HB 421 Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer Application by Rep. Jimmie T. Smith will be heard Tuesday in the House Agriculture and Natural Affairs Subcommittee on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.

Please call the members of the committee and urge them to vote NO on this bill which would exempt lawn workers holding “limited certification” from any restrictions on fertilizer application.  The only urban turf fertilizer restrictions in Florida are those that have been adopted by localities.  This bill preempts them and will leave local governments and taxpayers defenseless against nutrient pollution from lawn applicators.

You can reach Committee members at their district offices Friday and Monday and in the Capitol on Tuesday morning.  Please call if possible.  A person-to-person exchange is always best (remember to ask the name of the person you speak

to.)  If you send an email, be sure to put “Please vote NO on HB 421 – Fertilizer” or similar language in the subject line.  That way, even if your message is deleted, the most important point will have been read.

House Agriculture and Natural Resources 2012
District Phone
Capitol Phone
Email Address
Local Delegations
Rep. Jim Boyd
(850) 488-4086
Hillsborough, Manatee
Rep. Dwight M. Bullard (D)
(305) 234-2208
(850) 488-5430
Rep. Rachel Burgin
(813) 655-3742
(850) 488-9910
Rep. Matt Caldwell
(Vice Chair)
(239) 533-2411
(850) 488-1541
Rep. Steve Crisafulli
(321) 449-5111
(850) 488-4669
Brevard, Orange
Rep. Luis R. Garcia, Jr. (L)
(305) 325-2501
(850) 488-9930
Rep. Rich Glorioso
(813) 757-9110
(850) 488-0807
Hillsborough, Pasco
Rep. Tom Goodson
(321) 383-5151
(850) 488-3006
Brevard, Indian River
Rep. Shawn Harrison
(813) 983-3300
(850) 488-3087
Hillsborough, Pasco
Rep. Steven M. ''Steve'' Perman
(561) 470-6596
(850) 488-5588
Broward, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie
Rep. Ray Pilon
(941) 955-8077
(850) 488-7754
Manatee, Sarasota
Rep. Elizabeth W. Porter
(386) 719-4600
(850) 488-9835
Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Suwannee
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda
(850) 488-0965
(850) 488-0965
Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon
Rep. Franklin Sands
(954) 424-6800
(850) 488-0590
Rep. Jimmie T. Smith (J)
(Bill sponsor)
(352) 560-6020
(850) 488-0805
Citrus, Hernando, Levy

Ironically, the bill inserts legislative findings saying how critical best management practices are for commercial fertilizer application. Then it exempts lawn applicators from precisely those best management practices! 

In fact, the bill exempts holders of “limited certification” from any restrictions BECAUSE THERE ARE NO RESTRICTIONS OTHER THAN LOCAL ONES.  This bill is complete carte blanche for lawn applicators.  There is no state regulation of fertilizer application and the bill preempts local ordinances! 

Additional Talking Points:

The proposed exemption is based on ZERO data or science – there is no proof that the exemption is needed for any reason!  Sarasota County has now lived through 4 full years of rainy season bans without any of the doom and gloom predicted by the commercial applicators.

At least 40 municipalities and 6 counties in Florida have implemented a strict (no exemptions) rainy season ban on nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer application on urban lawns.  Why?  Because there is no debating this truth: When it rains in those communities during the summer, it pours! It doesn’t matter who applies the fertilizer or how much training they’ve had; if it rains soon after application, the fertilizer washes away into local waters – no matter who applied it.

Last session the full House voted unanimously to protect local control of urban fertilizer regulation regarding use, application, content and timing. They finally all understood how important these codes are to local pollution prevention.

The exemption would also allow commercial applicators to ignore other protective measures found in local ordinances – they would be able to use even more quick release nitrogen fertilizer than is recommended by the Green Industries BMP Manual, apply it closer to at-risk bodies of water, and apply phosphorous fertilizer year round without proving there is a deficiency.

 An exemption for commercial applicators would also:

1.       Establish two classes of homeowner: If you can afford a professional then you can ignore your responsibility to the community.  It is a “pay to pollute” arrangement, but the proceeds don’t go to mitigation or elimination of the source of the pollutant; they go to the polluter! 

2.       Give an unfair advantage to the commercial applicators over the distributors and vendors of ordinance compliant do-it-yourself products.

3.       Undercut voluntary compliance and make enforcement of the rainy season ban impossible.  Enforcement is only possible when (1) all applicators (professional and homeowner) are obligated to follow the same rules, and (2) the restricted period is defined by easy to understand parameters. Without an across-the-board rainy season ban the homeowner rainy season ban is unenforceable.

4.       Directly conflict with IFAS County Extension and FDEP recommendations found in the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook (FYN Handbook) in regards to fertilizer-free zones, rainy season application, yearly total nitrogen application rates, and percentage slow/controlled release nitrogen.

Under HB 421 lawn applicators would be able to ignore these best practices from the FYN Handbook:

·         No Fertilizer application within 10 feet of a waterbody

·         No fertilizer containing N or P  June 1 – September 30 

·         Limit total Nitrogen to 4 lb/1000ft2 per year

·         Use no less than 50% water insoluble, or slow release Nitrogen fertilizer

David Cullen
Sierra Club Florida Lobbyist