Landscape & Irrigation

November/December 2017

Landscape and Irrigation is read by decision makers throughout the landscape and irrigation markets — including contractors, landscape architects, professional grounds managers, and irrigation and water mgmt companies and reaches the entire spetrum.

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26 November/December 2017 Landscape and Irrigation www.landscapeirrigation.com BY PAUL MENDELSOHN 2017 has been a time of many advocacy opportunities and challenges for landscape professionals and associated industries. From the unpredictable and sometimes volatile politics of D.C., to our nation's state houses and town halls, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and its members have worked extensively to expand the voice, reach, and level of influence of our nation's professional landscape businesses. As an industry that is often targeted by activists, it is critical for us to speak with a unified voice on behalf of our profession. In 2017, NALP's member-driven advocacy efforts have achieved some noteworthy results, and positioned NALP for future advocacy success. Here are just a few examples of the many ways this year that NALP helped to advance and defend your professional interests. Fighting for H-2B cap-relief We understand the crucial need that many of our members have for a seasonal workforce. This year, we have spent countless hours educating members of Congress on the importance of H-2B. Unfortunately, the traditional opposition of anti-immigration and pro-labor union forces have been augmented by the "buy American, hire American" chorus of the Trump administration. The result is that many in Congress are skittish, or refuse to recognize the critical workforce needs of seasonal employers and the challenges encountered when trying to fill labor needs locally. Despite this challenging political environment, in the spring we emerged with a significant victory when President Trump signed into law the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act. NALP and its H-2B Workforce Coalition allies succeeded in getting Congress to include cap-relief language in the measure that allowed the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to approve additional work visas above the 66,000 allotted annually. Regrettably, the celebration was short-lived. Despite significant pressure from NALP and others, Secretary Kelly sat on the issue for several months, and when he did finally act, he only approved an additional 16,000 visas – much too little, and much too late. The toxic attitude toward anything remotely associated with immigration that surfaced this year in D.C. has had an impact on prospects for H-2B in 2018 as well. Our efforts to include cap-relief through the appropriations process were thwarted due to last- minute opposition from the West Wing. We are now in the tough position of trying to get some type of cap-relief put in place for 2018. Moving forward, we will continue to meet with Congressional champions, actively engage our members so that their stories and experiences are communicated to Congress, and use traditional and social media to promote H-2B program positives with a goal of short-term H-2B relief and long-term permanent reform that is favorable to seasonal employers. Supporting industry-friendly EPA regulation Without a doubt, H-2B is priority one when it comes to our Capitol Hill advocacy activities. However, other legislation and regulatory measures related to landscape professionals are being considered by members of Congress and the administration. We have spent countless hours educating decision makers on pesticide regulations, and how our members use them. Two industry-related bills have already been approved in the House, and are awaiting action in the Senate. The first bill would eliminate NPDES requirements for pesticide use on or near water. The second allows the industry to contribute to the costs of pesticide regulation, an important financial mechanism that helps keep the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs running, which is integral to pesticide review and regulation. Finally, we received great news this summer when EPA administrator Scott Pruitt formally rescinded Waters of the United States, or WOTUS as it is more commonly known. NALP and many of its members viewed the rule as an egregious governmental overreach that would detrimentally impact our industry. Fortunately, the EPA agreed and they are now writing a new rule that we expect will be much more reflective of industry concerns. The draft WOTUS replacement is expected to be finalized in early 2018. Partnering on pesticide issues Our advocacy focus is not limited to just federal issues. This ye a r, NA L P cl o s e l y m o n i to re d n e a r l y 2 5 0 p i e ce s o f s t a te legislation related to the professional landscape industry. We ILLUSTRATION ABOVE ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/SMARTBOY10 STAYING CURRENT 2017 Legislative Recap, and 2018 Outlook No one knows the advocacy needs of landscape professionals better than you, and your involvement in advocacy is an integral ingredient for success.

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