Torres crop-protection bill signed by governor

Today Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill sponsored by first-year Sen. Nikki Torres to help with the administration of rules related to crop-protection products. The measure, which passed both the House and Senate with unanimous support, is Torres’ first bill to make it through the legislative process to the governor’s desk and receive his signature.

“I’m pleased that my first piece of legislation to become law is about serving our agricultural community,” said Torres, R-Pasco. “Washington has a robust agricultural portfolio that includes more than 300 different commodities, and pest management is an important issue that impacts every grower in the state. Changing the commission’s name not only better reflects its actual work, but the new law also adds a nonvoting member who will represent our region and help the federal government understand the specific pest-control issues affecting the Pacific Northwest.”

Senate Bill 5143 cleared the Senate with a vote of 49-0 on March 2. It passed the House 96-0 on March 24. The new law changes the name and membership of the Commission on Pesticide Registration and adds a representative from Region 10 (the Pacific Northwest) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), headquartered in Seattle, as a non-voting member. EPA Region 10 serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and 271 Tribal Nations.

Another Torres crop-protection measure,  Senate Bill 5330, is one step from a vote of the House. That bill would make changes to the Washington Pesticide Application Act. Requested by the Washington Department of Agriculture, it would allow the WSDA director to suspend or revoke a license or certification based on decisions made by another jurisdiction under certain conditions.

It also would remove the requirement that applicants be at least 16 years old on the date the application is submitted and would add a requirement that WSDA adopt standards for pesticide applications made by noncertified individuals.

“This bill is critical to the safety and well-being of both the user and those living in the general vicinity of the widespread use of crop-protection products,” said Torres. “It is the first step in implementing Washington’s EPA-approved plan to ensure that pesticides are used safely, with minimal negative impacts to health and the environment.

“I hope my colleagues in the House will show that bill the same love they showed Senate Bill 5143, and hopefully we also can get that important legislation to the governor without delay.”

The law created by SB 5143 will go into effect on July 23, 2023. The House has until 5 p.m. on April 12 to pass SB 5330. That is the last day for the House to consider a Senate policy bill (and vice versa) this legislative session.