LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Kim LaSata applauded an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday that temporarily suspended requirements for in-person examinations for renewals of pesticide certifications until after Michigan’s emergency declaration is lifted.
The order came days after LaSata sent a letter to the governor urging her to extend the licenses as well as classify lawn care and landscape professionals as essential workers and classify insecticides and repellents as essential items. LaSata’s letter stemmed from concern over last year’s Eastern equine encephalitis outbreak and the recent mild winter that could lead to another.
“I appreciate that the governor acted quickly to help rectify what could be another major EEE problem this year,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “While extending pesticide applicator certifications is a start, we need to free essential lawn care and landscape crews so they can get back to work protecting our communities from mosquito-borne illnesses, like EEE, and other pests.”
LaSata’s letter argued that the failure to allow Michigan residents to follow Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) guidelines to kill and prevent mosquitoes further threatens their health and safety.
MDHHS prevention guidelines include using insect repellent and taking steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside homes — steps that many people rely on lawn care and landscape professionals to do. In 2019, the Whitmer administration urged Michigan residents to cancel, postpone or reschedule outdoor events scheduled at or after dusk, especially those that involve children, to reduce exposure to EEE.
“Last year, half of all Michigan residents who died from EEE were from the 21st Senate District,” LaSata said. “People with EEE often require the same treatments and resources that are also being used to treat COVID-19 infections. We need to get these workers back out on the job to help prevent another EEE outbreak and further strain on our health care system.”