The pesticide ban being considered by the Montgomery County Council is the latest example of county lawmakers trying to make sure their populous suburban jurisdiction is as healthy and safe as possible.
Here are five of the initiatives the all-Democratic council has approved or is considering that impose strict limits on what some consider to be risky behaviors. The efforts have led critics to accuse the council of trying to impose a “nanny state.”
• Ban on transfats: In 2007, the council approved a bill championed by at-large Democrat Duchy Trachtenberg that banned restaurants, supermarket bakeries and delis from selling foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. Montgomery was the first county in the nation to restrict transfats.
• Protection of domestic workers: In 2008, the council approved the Domestic Workers Employment Contracts Act, which was sponsored by then-council member George L. Leventhal (he is now the council president, and the lead backer of the proposed pesticide ban). The law requires the employers of certain domestic workers to negotiate and sign a written contract that specifies the terms and conditions of their employment.
• Protection of puppies: Leventhal this month led passage of a bill requiring retail pet stores to sell kittens and puppies only from shelters or animal rescue organizations. The bill prohibits stores from doing business with large-scale commercial “mills” — even though there are currently no stores in the county that get animals from those mills.
• E-cigarette ban: Also this month, the council unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) that forbids the use of electronic cigarettes any place where conventional tobacco smoking is not allowed. It is the first such ban passed in the Washington area.
• Pesticide ban: The council is weighing a bill sponsored by Leventhal that would prohibit the use of cosmetic or “non-essential” pesticides on residential lawns and athletic fields, based on concern from some advocates that even EPA-approved chemicals could pose a health risk.