House District 36 Rep.-elect Dan Ortiz has joined Sitka’s Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and Anchorage Rep. Les Gara in pre-filing a bill that calls for restoring public comment periods before the Department of Transportation uses pesticides on state-owned roads and highways.
The bill also adds protection for fish habitat and drinking water, according to an announcement from the House Democratic Caucus.
Ortiz is unaffiliated with any political party, but is part of the minority caucus. Kreiss-Tomkins and Gara are both Democrats.
According to the announcement, the bill is in response to resolutions passed by eight municipalities, including Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, and Haines, along with three tribes and the Prince of Wales Community Advisory Council. Those resolutions all asked for restoration of the public process, or opposed pesticide use altogether.
In 2013, the state changed its regulations on pesticide use, removing the public comment requirement, and allowing spraying with only DEC approval of a statewide general permit and notice in a local newspaper.
The proposed legislation also covers herbicides. The legislative session starts on Tuesday, which is when Ortiz will be sworn in.