Washington Update 2017 Review

NPDES - According to the EPA, "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are required for any pesticide applications that result in discharges to waters of the United States, regardless of the method of application, type of product, or industry." That includes golf. However, this permit requirement contradicts the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) which already subjects products used for aquatic plant management to an intensive approval process by the EPA before a product can be registered. Bi-partisan legislation that would negate the need of a permit was introduced in Congress this year. HR 953 by Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) passed the House, but companion legislation, S 340 by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), has yet to receive a committee hearing in the Senate. The bill currently has 18 co-sponsors and the GCSAA of South Dakota would like to thank Senator Thune and Senator Rounds for thier support of this bill. 

H-2B - To put it mildly, the H-2B visa program got chipped from one side of the green to the other this year. The federal seasonal worker program designed to bring temporary, non-agricultural labor to the U.S. has been plagued by uncertainty and change for many years now, and unfortunately, 2017 was no different. At issue is the annual cap of 66,000 total visas set by Congress which has consistently been reached prematurely each year, leaving many businesses seeking labor, including golf facilities, shorthanded. Two pieces of legislation seeking to resolve the cap issue were introduced in Congress this year, HR 2004 by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and S 792 by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Both bills have yet to receive a committee hearing.

In 2017, GCSAA added another tool to the advocacy toolbox with the creation of a Political Action Committee. At their summer board meeting, the GCSAA board of directors officially approved the formation of a PAC which will provide the golf course management industry yet another means of supporting lawmakers who champion our issues in Congress. Contributions to the GCSAAPAC can be made anytime by individual GCSAA members and others. If you are interested in contributing, please first make sure you qualify as a PAC donor by going to the GCSAA Political Action Committee page.  

2017 was a year of action in the Grassroots Ambassador program. Ambassadors hosted site visits for members of Congress and staffers, attended National Golf Day, took meetings in numerous district offices, and engaged Congressmen and Senators at various events throughout the year. Great work and thanks to all who took action!!