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May 31 —A state ban on consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides is slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2018, after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that he will allow S.B. 198/H.B. 211 to become law without his signature.
The legislation, which includes exceptions for certified applicators, farmers and veterinarians, makes Maryland the first state to adopt such a ban on consumer use, according to a coalition of environmental organizations operating as Smart on Pesticides Maryland.
The measure was prompted by concerns that neonicotinoid pesticides contribute to mortality of pollinators such as bees, birds and butterflies.
Hogan informed lawmakers May 27 that he had invoked a provision in the state constitution that allows legislation to become law without being signed unless the governor vetoes it within 30 days, which he has declined to do.
Although the governor won't lend his signature to the measure, spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill told Bloomberg BNA in a May 31 e-mail that Hogan “recognizes how devastating the recent honey bee losses are to beekeepers and how vital pollination services are to fruit and vegetable crop production throughout the state.”
She noted that he previously signed H.B. 132, which requires certain state agencies to establish pollinator habitat plans to foster best management practices.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture had submitted testimony against the consumer ban under S.B. 198/H.B. 211.
Under the legislation, a person who violates the ban will be subject to a $250 civil penalty, although language added just before passage specifies that such violation isn't considered a misdemeanor under existing penalty provisions of the state's agriculture statute.
The ban will apply to the sale and use of imidacloprid, nithiazine, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, thiacloprid, thiamethoxam and any other chemical designated by the Maryland Department of Agriculture as a neonicotinoid.
Exceptions are provided for pet care products used to mitigate fleas, mites, ticks and heartworms; personal care products used to mitigate lice and bedbugs; and indoor pest control products, including ant bait.
In a nod to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's pending risk assessment of several neonicotinoid pesticides, the legislation gives the state agriculture department six months after the EPA completes its review to recommend to lawmakers any changes in state policy necessary to ensure protection of pollinators.
The legislation originally included language that would have required any plants, seeds or nursery stock treated with neonicotinoids to have signage indicating so, but that was removed during early deliberations.
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