VNLA Legislative Summary

The VNLA worked on your behalf to watch for bills and budget items impacting your operation as a nursery, wholesaler, or retail operation this 2024 General Assembly Session.

VNLA focused on two key issues (1) the right to sell plants, trees, and shrubs in your facility and (2) signage requirements regarding invasive species.

Right to Sell Plants, Trees, and Shrubs in Your Facility

The VNLA worked hard to represent the VNLA on HB 1167/Krizek, which would authorize any locality to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the sale of English ivy, with violations punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $50 for a first violation and not to exceed $200 for a subsequent violation within 12 months.

VNLA strongly OPPOSED this Legislation for the following reasons:

· Enforcement – Who would enforce this prohibition at the local level? At what cost? What prevents consumers from purchasing from Amazon, Facebook Market, or traveling to neighboring localities and/or states to purchase the plant that they desire?

· Plant Production – The in-state production, of such living plant, or part thereof, includes Commercially Viability, or such living plants are Commercially Propagated in Virginia. The market shall define the demand for specific species, not an artificial legislative mandate.

· Precedent –VNLA is opposed to the PRECEDENT prohibiting the sale of a plant, shrub or bush NO MATTER the specific cultivar or species. This piece of legislation has already been called a “Christmas tree” bill by its proponents, referring to additional products intended to be added to the legislation in the future.

· Penalty – VNLA is opposed to the excessive PENALTY imposed by this legislation. A $50-$200 civil penalty may be imposed for the first and subsequent sale of English ivy, with a cap of $3,000 in 12 months. Accumulating a $3,000 civil penalty seems excessive.

VNLA extends our appreciation to Governor Younkin for his VETO of this legislation to provide relief to our greenhouses, nurseries, and retailers of all shapes and sizes.

Signage Requirements Regarding Invasive Species

VNLA worked hard to negotiate a solution that focused on consumer & industry education when it comes to signage requirements regarding invasive species.

HB47/Seibold & SB306/Salim were two different bills proposing two different regulations. HB47/Seibold was based on the Maryland program, requiring the Maryland signage to be placed in proximity to each invasive plant display signage identifying such plants as invasive.

SB306/Salim required that signage be posted on the property, identifying such plants as invasive. Any person who violates the signage requirement would face a civil penalty, up to $500.

VNLA extends our appreciation to Sen. Salim, Del. Seibold, and the other stakeholders for working with us to come together on substitute language to address industry concerns to allow for the VDACS Commissioner to work in conjunction with the Invasive Species Working Group to develop

the content, font, size of the signage, taking into account neighboring states’ signage. The location of the signage would be conspicuous and in proximity to invasive species plant displays. The sign shall also include a QR code and URL linked to the Department’s invasive plant species list. The sign shall educate consumers on the environmental effects of invasive plant species and encourage consumers to ask about alternatives.

VNLA remained opposed to a penalty but was willing to accept it as part of a compromise.

VNLA strongly believes the final language creates less burdensome logistics for businesses by placing displays in proximity of invasive plants; allows for stakeholder input by working in conjunction with VDACS and the Invasive Species working group; and most importantly educates consumers about the impact of invasive plants while still allowing them to make informed decisions.

As with the previous bill, VNLA extends our appreciation to Governor Younkin for his VETO of this legislation which places additional requirements and imposes civil penalties on Virginia’s small businesses for the sale of plants with low levels of invasiveness, such as periwinkle and winter honeysuckle. Additionally, the Department’s invasive species list would function as the legally binding authority regarding invasive species, circumventing the Administrative Process Act, which involves a public notice and comment period.

VNLA agrees that Virginia should continue to educate consumers about invasive plant species and encourage them to seek alternatives. More information is to come about a new VNLA campaign to do so.

Invasive Species Working Group

The Invasive Species Working Group continues its work to implement legislation from 2009 that directs the Secretaries of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Forestry to “coordinate the development of strategic actions to be taken by the Commonwealth, individual state and federal agencies, private business, and landowners related to invasive species prevention, early detection and rapid response, control and management, research and risk assessment, and education and outreach.”

VNLA members attend these meetings, the latest one in February 2024, in Richmond, to represent all aspects of the industry.

Are you familiar with the 2009 Invasive Species and/or Virginia Noxious Weed Law?

VNLA will highlight these and other items of discussion in this monthly update to ensure that you are up to date.

Legislative Committee

Are you interested in serving on the VNLA Legislative Committee going forward?

With working groups, budget items, and legislative items as well as legislators to educate, VNLA needs you to volunteer your time, knowledge, and expertise.

The Legislative Committee will evaluate legislation based on (NEW) legislative policy. The committee will meet frequently during the General Assembly and as needed outside of session to address legislative issues. The Legislative Committee will assist in planning an annual Legislative Day to educate legislators regarding the VNLA, coordinate tours off-session, and engage members to ensure that VNLA is representing the green industry.

Legislative Questions? Contact Executive Director, Katie Hellebush.

Thank you for reading!