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Source: Newsday

Senate OKs bill to limit pesticide use

BY JENNIFER SMITH

Posted: April 25, 2010
Originally Published: April 22, 2010

A bill that would limit use of pesticides at day care facilities and public and private schools passed the state Senate this week after a spirited debate and a vote that split Long Island's Republican wing.

While the Assembly has yet to approve the measure, its passage Wednesday was a significant step for legislation blocked for nearly a decade under the Senate's previous Republican majority. Backers expect it to be taken up soon by the Assembly, which passed similar bills in past years.

"It's the first major change in pesticide controls in over 10 years," said sponsor Sen. Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point).

The pesticide industry opposes the law. So does the school board lobbying group, which says it takes away the ability of schools to manage pest control.

Backed by environmental advocates, the law would ban the use of so-called "aesthetic" pesticides on playgrounds, turf and playing fields unless there was a health emergency.

"They're not going to use toxic pesticides that cause nerve ailments or respiratory ailments," said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "We're talking about weed killers, insecticides and fungicides."

The result will be bald, weedy fields, said David Little of the New York State School Boards Association. "It's not like we're promoting them," he said of the pesticides. "We want them to be used sparingly. . . . Children's health is of paramount concern."

The bill had limited bipartisan support, Foley said. Fellow Democrat Craig Johnson voted for the bill. So did Long Island Republicans John Flanagan, Charles Fuschillo and Kenneth LaValle. Voting against: local Republicans Kemp Hannon, Owen Johnson, Carl Marcellino and Dean Skelos.