Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/08/1997 01:12 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 144 - DEC FEES: PESTICIDES AND CHEMICALS Number 0380 CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the next order of business was House Bill No. 144, "An Act authorizing the Department of Environmental Conservation to charge certain fees relating to registration of pesticides and broadcast chemicals; and providing for an effective date." Number 0416 BARBARA COTTING, Legislative Assistant to Representative Jeannette James, presented the sponsor statement. Representative James had submitted HB 144 at the request of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Division of Environmental Health. The ADEC oversees pesticide use in Alaska. Services consist of applicator training and certification, issuing permits for public use projects and ensuring pesticides are used properly. This includes requiring manufacturers to register their products with the state. The program is funded in part by the federal government, with a state match. MS. COTTING said every other state pays for its share of the pesticide program through a registration fee levied against the chemical manufacturers. The ADEC would like to do the same in Alaska, but statutory authority is needed. No Alaskan would pay this fee, since there are no chemical manufacturers in Alaska. The ADEC proposes to charge a $100 fee per label. At that low rate, it should not even impact these large manufacturers' bottom lines in any meaningful way, but it will have a positive impact on Alaska's general fund, with an expected annual savings of more than $56,000, to be replaced with program receipts. She invited Janice Adair to answer technical questions. Number 0481 JANICE ADAIR, Director, Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, came forward to testify. Alaska has an active but small pesticide program, doing primarily training and certification of applicators. Since pesticides are chemicals intended to kill living things, it is important they be used properly. "We have great success, actually, and have very few problems with misuse of pesticides," she commented. MS. ADAIR said the registration requirement is fairly important, not only to track which pesticides are being used in Alaska, but also because if the ADEC knows a certain pesticide has not been used in Alaska, it is easy to waive the monitoring requirement relating to drinking water. MS. ADAIR said every other state pays for its pesticide program through a combination of a federal grant and fees charged to manufacturers. This bill would allow the state to charge chemical manufacturers such as Dow Chemical and Corning for registration of their products in Alaska. Number 0559 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked how change would be handled as far as labels, for example. MS. ADAIR replied that the registration requirement applies to the approved use of the chemical. She noted that herbicides are included in the category of pesticides. She said there is a certain "block use" the chemical is good for; she would not expect much change in that after registration. Because a company sends its labels, the ADEC knows the ingredients. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked what happens when a formula changes. MS. ADAIR said it depends how dramatic the formula change is. Addition of a different ingredient would probably require a new registration, because it would require watching for an ancillary impact not expected under the prior formula. Number 0647 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked whether, in addition to herbicides, fungicides and so forth are included. MS. ADAIR replied, "All those `cides' are pesticides, because they're all intended to kill a living organism. And that's essentially what a pesticide is." Number 0676 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked who pays for this. MS. ADAIR said the large chemical manufacturers that make the pesticides pay. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked for confirmation that farmers would not pay for it. MS. ADAIR said theoretically, this $56,000 will impact these multi- million dollar corporations' bottom lines in some fashion. However, the farmers also pay for programs in 49 other states, which fund it in exactly the same way. She doubts that farmers would see an increase, although certainly it could be passed along to the consumer, as she assumed already occurs in the other 49 states. "But I will tell you that the farmers in your district do take advantage of this program and, I would think, want to see it continue," she said. "Certainly that's the comments we've received, when we just recently did an update to our regulations." Number 0736 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked Ms. Adair whether the ADEC had informed the "Dow Chemicals" of the world that this was impending. MS. ADAIR replied that the companies have been surprised it has not happened yet. She said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had done a couple of reports to Congress on the pesticide programs operating in the states. In each of those, Alaska stands out as the only state that does not do this. She said the companies are aware and have not commented on it specifically. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked whether it is fair to conclude the companies had an opportunity to testify that day. MS. ADAIR indicated it would not have been appropriate for her to set that up. Number 0787 CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON commented, "We didn't call them." He asked Ms. Adair whether the $100 was a standard fee used by other states. He suggested Dow Chemical could come up with $1,000. MS. ADAIR explained that most other states have a much larger pesticide program, especially in agricultural areas. Their fees are based not only on numbers of products, but also on the amount of certain chemicals by weight, for example. She offered to provide one of the EPA's reports; however, she did not have it with her. Those reports address different funding mechanisms adopted by other states. Few have only a flat, per-label fee. Almost all have something in addition because they have bigger programs to support. Number 0941 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to move HB 144 from committee with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note. There being no objection, HB 144 moved from the House Resources Standing Committee.