SSB 5550

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As Reported by House Committee On:

Labor & Workplace Standards

Title: An act relating to implementing the recommendations of the pesticide application safety work group.

Brief Description: Implementing the recommendations of the pesticide application safety work group.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Ways & Means (originally sponsored by Senators Saldaña, Warnick, Conway, Das, Hasegawa, Keiser, King, Rolfes and Van De Wege).

Brief History:

Committee Activity:

Labor & Workplace Standards: 3/18/19, 4/1/19 [DPA].

Brief Summary of Substitute Bill

(As Amended by Committee)

  • Establishes the Pesticide Application Safety Committee (Committee) to: (1) explore how state agencies collect and track data; and (2) consider the feasibility and requirements of developing a shared database.

  • Creates an advisory work group to collect information and make recommendations to the Committee.


Majority Report: Do pass as amended. Signed by 7 members: Representatives Sells, Chair; Chapman, Vice Chair; Mosbrucker, Ranking Minority Member; Chandler, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Gregerson, Hoff and Ormsby.

Staff: Trudes Tango (786-7384).


In 2018 the Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6529, which established a pesticide application safety work group to: review existing state and federal laws on pesticide safety and application; learn about new pesticide application technology; review the structure of the former application safety panel; and review current data and reports from Washington and other states.

Legislators from both chambers and caucuses were members of the work group, as well as representatives from state agencies and the Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The work group's report to the Legislature included recommendations to: (1) expand training; and (2) establish a new pesticide application safety panel. The report stated that the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) lacks sufficient resources to meet the training demand from pesticide applicators and handlers. The report also stated that a new pesticide application safety panel would provide an opportunity to evaluate and recommend policy options and investigate exposure cases.


Summary of Amended Bill:

The Pesticide Application Safety Committee (Committee) is established. The 11-member Committee is composed of:

The Secretary of the DOH and Director of the WSDA must co-chair the Committee and convene the first meeting by September 2019. The Committee must meet at least three times each year. The co-chairs must consider costs and conduct meetings in Olympia if it would reduce costs to the state. The Committee must provide an annual report to the Legislature, with an initial progress report due January 2020.

The first priority of the Committee is to explore how the WSDA, the L&I, the DOH, and the Washington Poison Center collect and track data. The Committee must also consider the feasibility and requirements of developing a shared database, including how the DOH could use existing tools to better display multiagency data regarding pesticides.

The Committee may also evaluate and recommend policy options related to:

An advisory work group is created to collect information and make recommendations to the full Committee on topics requiring unique expertise and perspectives on issues within the Committee's jurisdiction. The advisory group consists of: a representative from the WSDA; two representatives of employee organizations that represent farmworkers; two farmworkers with expertise on pesticide application; a representative of community and migrant health centers; a toxicologist; a representative of growers who use air blast sprayers; a representative of growers who use aerial pesticide application; a representative of growers who use fumigation to apply pesticides; and a representative of aerial applicators.

The advisory work group must hold meetings at the Committee's request. To reduce costs, the advisory work group must conduct meetings using teleconferencing or other methods and may hold one in-person meeting per fiscal year.

These provisions expire in 2025.

Amended Bill Compared to Substitute Bill:

The amended bill removes the provision requiring the Committee to operate within appropriations from the Medical Aid and Accident funds.


Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date of Amended Bill: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony:

(In support) This bill is based on recommendations from the work group created by last year's legislation. Pest management is a difficult issue, and improvements can be made for worker safety. It is important to have legislators on the committee.  Having the advisory group act on an "as needed" basis will help lower the fiscal note.

(Opposed) None.

(Other) It is both feasible and appropriate for the DOH and the WSDA to chair and staff the Committee, but the work will have a fiscal impact that is not addressed in the Governor's budget.

Persons Testifying: (In support) Heather Hansen, Washington Friends of Farms and Forests; and Jim Jesernig, Washington Potato and Onion Association.

(Other) Lauren Jenks, Washington State Department of Health.

Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.