EXCLUSIVE: Attorney General Refuses to Weigh in on Berliner Pesticide Measures
In a letter dated May 28, Berliner asked Attorney General Brian Frosh to weigh in on whether four measures being proposed by Berliner would be preempted by state law. On June 5, Adam Snyder, chief counsel, Opinions & Advice in the Office of the Attorney General sent a response declining Berliner’s request.
“The principal purpose of providing formal Opinions of the Attorney General is to clarify uncertain issues of State law, not to review pending local legislation for constitutionality; again, that role is played by the County Attorney. And with several formal opinions already under review, we are not in a position to devote the resources necessary to take on the local issues you raise,” Snyder wrote.
Berliner said he wasn’t surprised by the response.
“I think that they don’t see their job in that way,” he said. “I am pretty confident in pursuing the issues that I raised.”
The council is considering a ban on certain pesticides from being applied to lawns and to certain County-owned properties. The chief sponsor of Bill 52-14 is Council President George Leventhal. Councilmembers Marc EIrich, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer are co-sponsors.
As proposed the bill 52-14 would:
(1) require posting of notice for certain lawn applications of pesticide;
(2) prohibit the use of certain pesticides on lawns;
(3) prohibit the use ofcertain pesticides on certain County-owned property;
(4) require the County to adopt an integrated pest management program for certain
County-owned property; and
(5) generally amend County law regarding pesticides.
In a letter of advice to Del. Kirill Reznik dated April 1 Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe evaluated that county proposal to ban the application of non essential pesticides and concluded that certain aspects of the proposed bill might be preempted by State law, according to the attorney general’s office.
Berliner said he wanted to see if the measures he is suggesting as an alternative could also be preempted. Those are:
- A requirement that applicators in Montgomery County report the amount of pesticide they apply yearly in the County, for the purposes of establishing a pesticide-reduction goal;
- A requirement that residents sign a document that identifies the reported health risks associated with pesticides, acknowledges that organic alternatives exist, and directs (or not) a lawn care provider to adhere to Integrated Pest Management practices that calls for the use of pesticides as a last resort;
- A requirement that condo associations or homeowners associations be required to have an affirmative vote of the membership in order to apply pesticides;
- A requirement for additional reporting specifically for properties where children are frequently present, such as playgrounds and daycare facilities.
Berliner said he believes the county should acclimate the community to reducing pesticide use before moving to a full ban.
“To go to a place of not enforcing laws we have to a ban in one fell swoop is a bridge to far,” Berliner said.
Even though Leventhal’s bill has five co-sponsors, Berliner said he still has some confidence in his alternatives.
“A lot happens between now and September. My job is to provide an alternative approach and allow my colleagues to decide,” he said.
Linda Stein has lived in Gaithersburg for 18 years. In this MyMCMedia Extra, Stein says that pesticides on residential lawns is one issue that matters to her this election. Gaithersburg polls are open until 8 p.m. tonight, you can visit the election site for more information.
In an Oct. 19th memo addressed to County Council President George Leventhal, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said he is not signing Bill 52-14, also known as the pesticide bill. “I am concerned about the opinions of an Assistant Attorney General regarding whether a ban on the use of certain pesticides in the County would […]
The Montgomery County Council passed Bill 52-14 by a 6 to 3 vote on Tuesday. The legislation, commonly known as the pesticide bill, bans the use of EPA-registered pesticides in lawn care for most uses in the county including public and private playgrounds, mulched recreation areas, child care centers, and county property. Advocates and opponents of […]
Here are your five things to know today, Oct. 6, in Montgomery County: 1. Montgomery County Councilmembers are expected to vote on a pesticide bill today- a proposed legislation that would ban certain pesticides from being applied to lawns and county-owned properties. The chief sponsor of this bill is Council President George Leventhal. Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy […]
UPDATED In this MyMCMedia Extra video, Jennifer Quinn, a volunteer with Safe Grow Montgomery, explains Bill 15-42 and why her organization supports this legislation. The County Council is scheduled to vote on Bill 15-42 on Oct. 6. Related:
In this MyMCMedia Extra, Jennifer Quinn, a volunteer with Safe Grow Montgomery, explains who she thinks is opposed to Bill 52-14, the pesticide bill, and she says Montgomery County Councilmembers have heard from supporters more than opponents. Take a look: The Council has scheduled an Oct. 6 vote on the bill. Related:
In this MyMCMedia Extra video, Gaithersburg resident Jennifer Quinn, a volunteer with Safe Grow Montgomery, explains why she believes Bill 52-14 is so important. You can find more information about this bill on Montgomery County’s website, here. The County Council is scheduled to vote on the bill at its Oct. 6th meeting. Related:
A bill before Montgomery County Council that would restrict pesticide use on private lawns and some private property is scheduled for a vote in the coming weeks. Susan Kenedy reports: Visit our PEG partner County Cable Montgomery to view more of its local programming.
Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal met with reporters on June 15th to discuss a variety of topics including the pesticide bill, earned sick and safe leave bill, public financing of elections, privatization of the Department of Economic Development and his reaction to news that the Gazette newspaper is closing. You can watch the briefing […]
The Maryland Office of the Attorney General refused to give County Councilmember Roger Berliner advice on his provisions for reducing the use of pesticides in Montgomery County. In a letter dated May 28, Berliner asked Attorney General Brian Frosh to weigh in on whether four measures being proposed by Berliner would be preempted by state law. […]