AUGUSTA — A legislative committee has voted unanimously to reject a bill that would have prohibited Maine cities and towns from adopting pesticides restrictions that are more stringent than the state’s.

The controversial proposal from the LePage administration would have invalidated more than two dozen local pesticide ordinances and barred other municipalities from going beyond the state’s pesticide regulations.

While administration officials, lawn care companies and golf courses said the measure was needed to address a confusing “patchwork” of regulations, opponents said it would undermine local control in a way that could violate the Maine Constitution.

At least 27 cities and towns have adopted ordinances adding restrictions on the types of pesticides that can be applied, as well as when and under what circumstances. Some communities opted to regulate certain pesticides years before the Maine Board of Pesticide Control issued its own restrictions on the chemicals.

More than 70 individuals and organizations testified or submitted written comments on the bill, L.D. 1505, the vast majority in opposition. Opponents included the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Maine Municipal Association, Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility, Friends of Casco Bay, environmental groups and multiple municipalities.

The bill was a late introduction on behalf of Gov. Paul LePage and reportedly mirrored model legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that works with state lawmakers. The Maine Board of Pesticide Control voted 4-2 last week after what was described as a “spirited discussion” to endorse a watered-down version of the bill.

The Legislature’s State and Local Government voted 13-0 to recommend rejection of the bill on Wednesday, without discussion.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH