Crop-dusting bill heads to Idaho governor

March 19, 2020 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislation sought by pesticide-spraying crop dusters that underwent significant amending to put in protections for people on the ground headed to the governor’s desk on Wednesday.

The House unanimously approved the amended version after the initial version it approved last month got significant pushback in the Senate.

The legislation follows an incident last year where about 20 farmworkers in southwestern Idaho said they became sick after a crop duster sprayed pesticide on a field right next to them. The crop-dusters contended that current state regulations are too onerous and unclear.

The original legislation sponsored in the House by Republican Rep. Judy Boyle easily passed the House last month despite concerns it mostly gutted regulations intended to prevent crop dusters from harming people on the ground.

That bill would have made it so crop dusters could not be held responsible for the “careless” application of pesticides.

But the Senate earlier on Wednesday amended the bill, adding back in the language barring people from applying pesticides in a “careless or negligent manner,” and retaining language in current law that prohibits pesticide applicators from applying ineffective or improper pesticides.

The amended bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on a 31-1 vote.