UPDATE 1/12/2021: This legislation will be presented in the form of a House Joint Resolution (HJ 527) sponsored by Delegate Dave Bulova and a budget amendment sponsored by Senator Dave Marsden. In both the House and Senate, this legislation has been assigned to new committees.

If you have not already done so, contact your legislators now and ask them to vote in favor of legislation that will help guide Virginia in controlling the sale of invasive plants. The Resolution will call for a study that will explore options for phasing out the propagation and sale of invasive plants in Virginia’s horticultural industry, which may include potential legislative action to be brought the following year to the 2022 General Assembly. The study group, which will include representatives from the nursery and landscaping industry, state agencies and environmental groups such as VNPS, will produce a report of their recommendations and findings. This is a big step forward in the fight against invasive plants!

Please call or email both of your district legislators now and ask them to support this legislation. During this unusually short legislative session, things will move quickly, so do not delay.

Find your Virginia Senator and Delegate at Who’s My Legislator.

Reference House Joint Resolution NO. 527 when communicating with your Delegate. The Senate budget amendment has not yet been assigned a number. When communicating with your Senator, ask them to support the budget amendment that calls for the creation of a working group to study invasive plants.

Please use your own words. Some points you might include:

  • Our local ecosystems are under serious threat from numerous stressors and we must stop making the situation worse.
  • Virginia native plants are the basis of our ecosystem. Invasive plants displace them, preventing their growth, bringing down trees, degrading our natural areas, and harming wildlife.
  • You have seen commonly-sold invasive plants that have escaped into the wild (examples include English Ivy, Japanese barberry, Japanese pachysandra, Chinese wisteria, burning bush, Chinese silvergrass, privet, Callery pear, etc.).
  • It costs taxpayers large amounts of money to control these invasive species in their parks. State and local budgets have been able to cover only a fraction of what is needed.
  • It has cost you hours of labor and/or a lot of money to control these plants in your yard or a place you volunteer.
  • There are plenty of non-invasive ornamental plants that are every bit as nice that could be substituted for these invasives.

Visit the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS) to track House Joint Resolution No. 527 and review committee agendas prior to meetings.

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 527

Offered January 13, 2021
Prefiled January 7, 2021

Requesting the Department of Conservation and Recreation, jointly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to study the sale and use of invasive plant species. Report.
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Patron– Bulova
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Committee Referral Pending
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WHEREAS, an invasive plant species is a plant that originates outside a region and causes damage to the environment, the economy, and human health after its introduction to a new region; and

WHEREAS, landscaping with invasive plants causes economic and environmental damage and impinges on the rights of neighbors on whose properties the plants encroach; and

WHEREAS, Virginia residents, state agencies, and local governments spend substantial amounts of money each year on the removal of invasive plants, many of which are still being offered for sale in the retail, landscape, greenhouse, and nursery industry, which exacerbates the problem; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the Department of Conservation and Recreation, jointly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, be requested to study the sale and use of invasive plant species. The study shall focus on sales in the retail, landscape, greenhouse, and nursery industries and consider measures to reduce or eliminate the sale and use of invasive plant species in the Commonwealth and promote the sale and use of native plants.

In conducting its study, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, jointly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, may convene a work group that includes the Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Department of Wildlife Resources, the Virginia Native Plant Society, Blue Ridge PRISM, the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, and the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation, jointly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shall direct the work group to examine measures to reduce, mitigate, and eliminate the continued sale and use of invasive species as identified in the list of Virginia invasive plant species maintained by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The work group shall evaluate measures including (i) labeling plants as invasive plant species at the point of sale; (ii) taxing the sale of invasive plant species and applying revenues to the removal of invasive plant species or the restoration of sites for native habitat; (iii) adding invasive plant species currently being offered for sale to the list of plants declared to be noxious weeds by the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services through regulations adopted pursuant to Chapter 8 (§ 3.2-800 et seq.) of Title 3.2 of the Code of Virginia (the Noxious Weed List); (iv) supporting education and outreach, including state partnerships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to the preservation of Virginia’s natural heritage, regarding the reduction of the use of invasive plant species and the promotion of the use of noninvasive or native plant species as substitutes; and (v) introducing measures to increase the use of native plants on properties and projects owned by localities or the Commonwealth.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation, jointly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shall direct the work group to make recommendations regarding (a) statutory changes and (b) changes to regulations or guidance documents adopted by relevant agencies, including changes related to the placement of plant species on the Noxious Weed List.

All agencies of the Commonwealth shall provide assistance to the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for this study, upon request.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation, jointly with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shall complete its meetings by November 30, 2021, and shall submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an executive summary and a report of its findings and recommendations for publication as a House or Senate document. The executive summary and report shall be submitted as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports no later than the first day of the 2022 Regular Session of the General Assembly and shall be posted on the General Assembly’s website.