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RISE, companies sue Montgomery County over pesticide ban

November 22, 2016 -  By
Opponents of Bill 52-14 attend a Montgomery County, Md., council meeting discussing a proposed cosmetic pesticide ban. The bill passed in October.

Opponents of Bill 52-14 attend a Montgomery County, Md., council meeting during which a proposed bill banning cosmetic pesticide was discussed. The bill passed in October.

Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), along with six local businesses and seven residents of Montgomery County, Md., filed a lawsuit on Nov. 21 that challenges the passage of the county’s pesticide ban.

“Our nearly two-year challenge to the passage of Bill 52-14 continues with today’s court filing,” said Aaron Hobbs, RISE president. “Along with impacted county businesses and residents, we know this law is preempted by state law and are seeking confirmation from the court.”

Bill 52-14, which passed by a vote of 6 to 3 on Oct. 6, bans cosmetic pesticide use on private properties. Athletic fields and golf courses are excluded from the bill. The bill is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

The complaint, filed in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County asks the court to declare that the law is illegal as preempted by state law, since Maryland law already regulates the registration, sale and use of pesticides across the state. This is a common argument made by RISE and other opponents, and this opinion was backed by an evaluation from Maryland Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe. The Maryland Office of the Attorney General declined to provide a formal opinion.

“I believe we are acting in the interests of public health today,” Council President George Leventhal (D-At-Large), chief sponsor of the bill, told the Washington Post in October.

The co-plaintiffs, or companies that have joined the lawsuit, include Newsom Seed, Complete Lawn Care, Integrated Plant Care, Rowland Landscapes, Green Gardens, Super Lawns and CropLife America.

RISE anticipates a court decision during 2017, with a goal of springtime, before companies begin making their 2018 buying decisions.

Below, Sarah Laborde, grassroots manager for RISE, discusses how the pesticide ordinance could affect other municipalities across the U.S.




About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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