House Adopts “PRIA 4” By Voice Vote
On Monday, March 20, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted by voice vote H.R. 1029, the “Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act” under a suspension of the rules. Introduced in the 115th Congress by Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL), the measure was reported favorably out of the House Committee on Agriculture on February 16, 2017. Among its provisions, the bill would authorize the collection of $31 million in maintenance fees for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2023 (current maintenance fees are set at $27.8 million/year). In addition, the measure provides for an increase in the maintenance fee cap for large and small businesses and it continues the current prohibition on the imposition of tolerance fees as well as any other registration fee not specifically authorized by PRIA through fiscal year 2023.
In its other provisions, the measure provides for a set-aside of between 1/9 and 1/8 of maintenance fees collected for the review of inert ingredient submissions and me-too pesticide applications. The bill also adjusts registration service fees and decision review times for product submissions subject to PRIA and provides for two 5% increases in registration service fees during the effective period of the statute. Finally, H.R. 1029 reauthorizes existing provisions of PRIA for seven years, as opposed to the five-year extensions in previous iterations of the statute.
While CPDA is generally supportive of the provisions in H.R. 1029, the Council does have some concerns with regard to how the bill, as presently written, would impact appropriations. Specifically, current PRIA requires that in order to release collected funds, Congress must appropriate corresponding funds to support the program. Funds are then released on a dollar-for-dollar accounting basis. Fees that do not have a matching appropriation cannot be spent and are held by the Agency. As a result of dwindling appropriations, EPA has amassed a significant amount of funds totaling approximately $20 million that cannot be expended on the registration activities for which they were intended. Some have suggested that “de-linking” appropriations and fees in the Act will solve this problem. However, CPDA believes that de-linkage is an inappropriate way to release these frozen funds because:
- The link between fee collection and appropriations is the mechanism that guarantees that Congress will continue to fund PRIA;
- De-linkage does not solve the ongoing problem of the mismatch between appropriations and fee collections; and
- The problem of the mismatch between appropriations and fee collections can be easily solved by passing a one-time waiver to release currently frozen funds.
CPDA is now working with lawmakers in seeking such a waiver that would allow these funds to be released and expended on EPA product review activities for which they were originally intended. To this end, CPDA staff will be visiting with Congressional appropriators over the coming weeks to address this issue.