LEAF: Landscape Equipment and Agricultural Fairness Act
In February, the Georgia Urban Ag Council, working with Tolar Capitol Partners, asked Representative Don Hogan to introduce House Bill 1301, the Landscape Equipment and Agricultural Fairness Act (LEAF).
This bill was introduced due to concerns with what has happened in other states and is now being considered by individual jurisdictions in Georgia (Athens-Clark County, Atlanta, Decatur) to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
As an industry, we support the movement to battery-powered landscape equipment as technology improves. For most landscape businesses, the battery-powered commercial-grade equipment currently on the market is not viable for high-volume commercial use.
The impact of banning this equipment would affect not only the green industry, but all types of businesses who use this equipment, as well as homeowners. For businesses, the difficulty of operating their businesses across jurisdictions with different rules and/or bans would create chaos and confusion, as we have seen before, with conflicting outdoor water use rules.
The cost of doing business will increase, as this would require the purchase of new equipment that at present is significantly more expensive to acquire, more expensive to operate, and is less efficient. The currently available battery operated leaf blowers cause reduce productivity due to limited battery life and will require significantly more time to complete the same task as existing equipment. This in turn could lead to job losses, as these businesses adjust to a greater cost of operating their businesses.
As of publication date (March 10, 2022), this is the status of HB 1301:
- Representative Don Hogan is still in a holding pattern due to concerns about the impact to 'local control.' We appreciate the 100+ UAC members that added your name to a list we shared at the State Capitol to showcase industry support.
- We hope to overcome obstacles to get a vote on the House floor by, crossover day, March 15. If passed in the House by crossover day (March 15), will then go to Senate.
- If both House and Senate votes are affirmative (by Sine Die April 4), bill will then be sent to Governor Kemp for signature.
- Language in the bill reflects the potential for confusion that would exist with varying regulations that would lead to increased costs for compliance.
Based on UAC member feedback, this is a high priority issue for the industry as prohibitions on gas powered equipment become more prevalent across the U.S.
There would be no prohibition or regulation of the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers during hours allowed for all power equipment.
This bill does not discourage the use of battery powered equipment.
This is an agricultural issue and in need of statewide uniformity. Agriculture has statewide preemption for outdoor water use, fertilizer, pesticides, and genetically modified crops.
Local governments and universities can use whatever equipment they wish.
The bill has broad support from agriculture and forestry groups. Updated information will be disseminated as we receive it.