Landscaper law challenged - East Valley Tribune: News

Landscaper law challenged

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Posted: Monday, October 10, 2005 12:10 pm

You don’t need a state license to pick up some chemicals at the home supply store to rid your lawn of some weeds.

But Arizona law says a gardener or landscaper you hire must have 3,000 hours of training to spray those same chemicals.

A national organization is now challenging that.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two gardeners by the Institute for Justice, asks a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to block enforcement of the legal requirements — at least against two people who do not make a full-time living controlling weeds.

But Lisa Gervase, executive director of the Structural Pest Control Commission, said there are legitimate reasons for the training required.

Gervase acknowledged that the chemicals being sprayed by the two individuals who sued — two individuals who were cited for violating the law — are the same chemicals that individuals can buy for themselves. But said there is a substantive difference between do-it-yourself projects and those done for pay.

"I can buy medicines overthe-counter and give them to myself,’’ she said. "I can even give them to my dog.’’

But she said it is illegal for someone in business to give those same medications to another person.

She said the same holds true for chemicals. It’s one thing for someone without training to improperly mix and apply weed killers around his or her own house and family. Doing so around another person’s house is quite something else.

It will be up to a court to decide who is right.

Attorney Jennifer Barnett of the Institute for Justice said Larry Park works as a landscaper for Sunflower Community Association in Marana. She said he was cited last year by the Structural Pest Control Commission for using a backpack sprayer filled with Round-Up, a commercially available product, outside the community.

Gary Rissmiller owns a landscaping service in Tucson. One of his employees was cited for using a pre-emergent weed killer.

Barnett said to get that 3,000 hours of training — the equivalent of 18 months at 40 hours a week — one of his employees would have to quit.

But Gervase said that’s not true. That 3,000 hours doesn’t have to be in the actual application of weed killers, she said.

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