H. B. 2465

(By Delegates Manuel, Tabb, Boggs,
Doyle, Stemple and Hamilton)
[Introduced January 20, 2003; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then Finance.]

A BILL to amend chapter five of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-three, relating to the creation of a gypsy moth control commission; providing legislative findings; appointment and composition of the commission; stating powers, duties and responsibilities; allowing reimbursement of expenses; and requiring reports to the joint committee on government and finance as well as posting to a public access web site.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That chapter five of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-three, to read as follows:
§5-23-1. Short title.
This article shall be known by and may be cited as "The Gypsy Moth Control Act of 2003."
§5-23-2. Legislative findings, purposes and intent.
The Legislature finds and declares:
(1) That the gypsy moth is one of the most damaging insect pests of hardwood trees in the eastern United States and is rapidly spreading throughout West Virginia and must be controlled.
(2) The gypsy moth has continued spreading throughout West Virginia since the nineteen eighties. In particular, gypsy moth caterpillars defoliated six hundred and three thousand, six hundred twenty-seven acres of forestland in the state in two thousand one, which was twice the damage from the year before. Its presence in this state is a serious concern to public and private landowners. This ongoing threat to our community trees and forests raises severe economic and environmental problems and concerns, including the increased potential for wild fires, erosion, loss of commercial logging and residential property values, as well as impacts to tourism.
(3) In one thousand nine hundred eighty-seven, Senator Robert C. Byrd was instrumental in the passage of funding for a project to demonstrate integrated pest management against the gypsy moth. This project was called the appalachian gypsy moth IPM demonstration project. It encompassed thirty-eight counties and almost thirteen million acres in Virginia and West Virginia. Its objectives were to slow the spread of the gypsy moth, defoliation, assess the feasibility of a coordinated county, state and federal gypsy moth program and develop a prototype system that would be transferable to other areas of the United States. The project ended in one thousand nine hundred ninety-two. The project accomplishments included prevention of significant impacts on ninety-four percent of the treated areas, creation of standardized methods for all phases, and determination of multiple control methods including not only insecticides but also mating disruption and sterile egg options.
(4) A second gypsy moth project began, which is known as the slow the spread pilot project under the sponsorship of the United States forest service. The goal is to determine the feasibility of using IPM strategies over a large geographic area, including Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
(5) The objectives for the slow the spread pilot project are to:
(A)Demonstrate that new and current technology can slow the rate at which gypsy moth populations are currently spreading;
(B) Assess the technological, economic, ecological and environmental viability of implementing an operational slow the spread program over a larger area; and
(C) Integrate slow the spread technology into a national strategy for suppression of the gypsy moth.
(6) Data from this project is housed at the GMDigest, which is an internet site maintained by the United States forest service in Morgantown.
(7) After a brief downward trend, gypsy moth populations have rebounded in two thousand one. State and federal agencies responded by conducting aerial treatments to protect trees in nine states totaling four hundred sixty-three thousand, four hundred forty-eight acres. This is an increase of forty-six percent over two thousand treatment levels. Since one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven, there has been a broad regional upsurge in populations and by the summer of two thousand one, over two million acres of defoliation were reported from New England to Virginia and west to Wisconsin.
(8) In two thousand one, fifty-seven percent of all areas treated within state projects were privately owned and landowner participation was voluntary. Defoliation was prevented on eighty-seven percent of the acres treated. Areas not treated in two thousand one continue to see increases in gypsy moth populations. The most significant increases were found in Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey. The George Washington/Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia have increasing gypsy moth damage.
(9) Efforts to enhance control of the gypsy moth should be coordinated among the several state and federal agencies, commissions, boards, committees, associations and other entities.
(10) In recognition of these findings and purposes, it is in the best interest of this state to create the West Virginia gypsy moth control review commission as a statutory body.
§5-23-3. Commission created; composition; appointment of members.

There is created the West Virginia gypsy moth control review commission. The commission has a total of thirteen voting members. The commission is comprised of eight private citizen volunteer members; and five government agency members, one each, to be representatives from the department of agriculture, the division of natural resources, the section of parks and recreation and two other representatives of either state or federal agencies as are determined to be necessary for the purposes of this commission. The members shall be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Of the initial appointments, three members shall be appointed to serve a term of one year; three members shall be appointed to serve a term of two years; three members shall be appointed to serve a term of three years; and four members shall be appointed to serve a term of four years. The successor of each appointed member shall be appointed for an overlapping term of four years, except that any person appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which the predecessor was appointed shall be appointed only to the remainder of the term. Members shall be replaced if they miss two consecutive meetings or three meetings in one year. There are no limits on the number of terms which may be served by any individual, except of continued membership or employment for the group that is being represented. Each member shall serve until the appointment of his or her successor. Up to four additional, nonvoting members may be added or deleted by vote of a simple majority of the task force.
§5-23-4. Powers, duties and responsibilities.
The commission has the power, duty and responsibility to:
(1) Generally assist in establishing the policy and procedures for the control of the spread of gypsy moths in West Virginia, which should include a brief review of best practices in place in the affected region;
(2) Coordinate the current efforts to control the spread of the gypsy moth to new areas and limit damage in infested areas in this state among the several state and federal agencies, commissions, boards, committees, associations and other entities. This shall include ensuring an appropriate group will create, maintain and update education material, with West Virginia specific content, which should be made generally available to the public including community groups, home owner associations and county officials;
(3) Develop a centralized and enhanced control of the gypsy moth program that will create more seamless control efforts in a geographic area, and reduce risks to our citizens and forests at the state and county level through enhanced communication and coordination with all public and private landowners and other interested parties. This should increase the level of involvement of government officials and reduce the current administrative burden on individual property owner volunteer coordinators while allowing local control for conditions which may vary significantly from county to county; and
(4) Meet at least quarterly and report to the Legislature annually on the status of programs as required by the provisions of section six of this article. For the first twelve months, the task force shall meet at least monthly, to ensure a regular review of action items, and timely progress on the initial work required to create recommendations and reports. Telephone conference bridges or similar technology shall be made available to the members to minimize travel expenses and increase flexibility of scheduling.
§5-23-5. Compensation and expenses of members; expenses of the commission.

The members of the commission shall be reimbursed for all of their reasonable and necessary travel, telephone conference calls, and other expenses incurred in connection with carrying out their duties as members, which expenses shall be paid in the manner and form prescribed by law. Members of the commission may receive no compensation for their services on or with the commission: Provided, That a member of the commission who is also an employee of a state agency may only receive compensation for service on the commission by the state agency that employs that member.
§5-23-6. Reports.
The commission shall report to the Legislature's joint committee on government and finance as to the progress being made in the control of the gypsy moth by state governmental entities and projects, and shall report, at least annually, but more often if requested, the financing deemed necessary to continue funding, if desired, of gypsy moth control activities. The initial report shall be due by July first, two thousand three. This will allow sufficient time to revise processes for egg mass surveys in the fall of two thousand three and control measures for the spring of two thousand four. Reports should be available to the general public through standard mechanisms and easily found links on the internet with pointers from multiple state government pages.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a Gypsy Moth Control Commission to coordinate efforts to limit the effects of gypsy moths in this state.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.