ANLA APPLAUDS CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON H2B CAP
Congress is introducing legislation designed to provide relief to the current H2B temporary and seasonal labor crisis. The H2B problem emerged when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that, as of March 9, 2004, it had received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap of 66,000 workers. That action has created potential labor shortages for landscape and landscape distribution businesses during the spring and summer 2004 seasons.
Senator Kennedy introduced the bipartisan “Save Summer Act” (S. 2252), which currently has 16 cosponsors. The bill would raise the H2B cap from 66,000 to 104,000 for the current fiscal year. This bill has a House companion with 13 bipartisan cosponsors (H.R. 4052). Senators Hatch and Chambliss introduced the Republican alternative, “Summer Operations and Services Relief Reform Act” (S. 2258). Their bill currently has eleven cosponsors and would exempt all workers who held H2B temporary visas in 2002 and 2003 from this year's cap.
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OUTLINE OF ACTION FOR ‘LAWNS & THE ENVIRONMENT’ COALITION
On March 14-17, more than 100 representatives of various government agencies, environmental groups, Cooperative Extension Services, universities, garden writers and a variety of lawn care and landscaping businesses, associations and suppliers met in San Antonio, Texas, to discuss environmental issues and a draft set of environmental guidelines for responsible lawn care and landscaping. At the conclusion of the conference, the Lawns & the Environment (L&E) steering committee presented a four-part action plan for future coalition activities:
Expand membership of the L&E steering committee and develop a strategic plan for the initiative.
Extend the review and comment period for the draft “Environmental Guidelines for Responsible Lawn Care and Landscaping” to June 30, 2004.
Identify and select three to five cities willing to partner in public education demonstration projects.
Convene 2nd National L&E conference in 2006 to evaluate demonstration projects and future actions.
Conference participants had the opportunity throughout the three-day meeting to voice their opinions and provide recommendations concerning the proposed environmental guidelines and how best to educate and motivate consumers to adopt these practices in their home yards and landscapes.
L&E is a voluntary coalition of lawn care/landscaping industry organizations, environmental groups, and government agencies who are involved in residential landscaping issues. The coalition has developed a common set of environmental guidelines for responsible lawn care and landscaping that was presented in the conference.
For more information on the guidelines go to http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/grants/lei/index.htm.
NYAFEC SUCCEEDS IN RULE REVISION
The New York Alliance For Environmental Concerns (NYAFEC) is realizing the benefits of joining separate environmental horticultural industry groups together to pursue common goals and interests.
After years of delay, a New York State rule regulating commercial lawn care practices was proposed last year. “The original draft rule would have been disastrous for lawn care companies and customers alike,” noted Don Burton, president of the NYS Lawn Care Association, who, along with other NYAFEC members, formed a working group in April 2002 to challenge the rule. Burton helped coordinate a “grass roots” campaign that generated hundreds of letters and personal testimonials from companies and individuals from across the state in protest of the rule. NYAFEC also secured the support of more than three dozen state legislators, who signed a letter urging DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty to be mindful of maintaining a careful balance between industry, customers and the environment. The “revised” rule was approved by the state environmental board in July, containing several of the improvements NYAFEC had fought for over the prior fourteen months. The rule became effective January 1, 2004.
WHERE CREDIT IS DUE…
Credit for the rapid blight image on page 14 of our March issue goes to Larry Stowell. Both images of summer crown rot symptoms, on pages 16 and 17 of the March issue, are courtesy of Laurence Mudge, Bayer Environmental Science.
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