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UNHEALTHY SUNSET
COUNTY LEGISLATURE SHOULD MOVE QUICKLY TO RENEW PESTICIDE NOTIFICATION LAW

There should be no need to discuss pesticide notification in Erie County, since county legislators were supposed to have taken care of this matter a year ago. But here we are, again.

The state Pesticide Neighborhood Notification Law was passed in 2000. Counties can opt in to the program, but they have to do so before the end of the year in order for it to be in effect for the next spraying season. Under the law, companies have to notify neighbors within 48 hours before applying pesticides on lawns abutting properties within 150 feet.

County lawmakers opted in to the state's mandatory notification law last December, but with a sunset -- meaning it will expire at the end of this year unless the County Legislature renews it, with or without another sunset. The reason for the one-year sunset was to provide time for a commission to report on how the notification law had worked.

At the end of the spraying season, the Erie County Environmental Management Council put together a report that said, ". . . the Erie County Environmental Management Council recommends that the (state) Neighborhood Notification Law be renewed without any sunset provision."

The bottom line is this: Citizens deserve a warning when pesticides are applied. Legislators, especially the Democratic majority, need to get behind this law. Ironically, it was then-Democratic County Legislator Crystal Peoples who sponsored the proposal before it sat for nearly three years. The haggling around the mandatory notification law makes no sense, especially given the response from citizens who clearly want this option. Time is running out, and the county's current preoccupation with budget problems is not an excuse for foot-dragging.

In order for the county to opt in to the state notification law, the necessary legislation needs to be introduced by Dec. 7 in order to meet requirements for legislative action. If it doesn't get introduced by that date, Erie County residents who are at risk from pesticide exposure will have no protection at all. The Legislature's last session is scheduled for Dec. 16. Supporters of the legislation said they don't want to bring it up until they are guaranteed 10 votes so they can override a veto, even though there is no indication that the county executive would veto the bill. In any event, that's a poor excuse for refusing to protect the health and welfare of county residents.