Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced a bill Friday that would increase regulatory oversight of pesticide use near schools, day-care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals.
The measure would expand the authority of agricultural commissioners across the state to regulate all pesticide use near facilities used by children, the elderly and the infirm.
Violators would also face stiffer fines than California law now allows.
Jackson said she was acting in response to an incident at Mound Elementary School in Ventura last fall, when two children went home and dozens of other students and teachers complained of dizziness, headaches and nausea after a morning application of an insecticide at a nearby lemon orchard.
Current law gives county agricultural commissioners the discretion to regulate the application of narrowly defined “restricted” chemicals.
The insecticide--Lorsban--that was used near Mound Elementary School is considered an “unrestricted” chemical, though banned for most household uses by the Environmental Protection Agency because of long-term risk to children.
“This would give agricultural commissioners some authority and discretion within those areas with sensitive populations so we can get some sanity back in this whole process,” said Jackson, whose district includes parts of Ventura County. “And it allows agriculture to grow and prosper.”
She said she worked with farmers, parents and school district officials in crafting the legislation.
The measure would allow fines up to $5,000 per violation, up from the current $1,000 limit.