MMA committee supports mosquito control bill

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The MMA’s Policy Committee on Municipal and Regional Administration on May 7 endorsed a bill aimed at reducing the spread of West Nile virus.

The legislation, filed by Rep. Jason Lewis of Winchester, would amend the Pesticide Control Act to allow government workers to apply larvicides in catch basins to help prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne virus.

Currently, only licensed pesticide applicators may apply larvicides in catch basins. The special licenses called for in the proposed legislation would allow municipal public works and seasonal employees to obtain a license for the singular purpose of treating catch basins.

The East Middlesex Mosquito Control Commission, which is advocating for the legislation, argues that an urban community in the Boston area may have thousands of catch basins, which serve as breeding grounds for Culex mosquitos, the primary vectors for the West Nile virus. According to the commission, 33 Massachusetts residents contracted the virus last year.

The bill would restore a practice that was in effect from 2001 through 2009, according to Lenny Izzo, the chair of the commission.

The legislation, which is before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, is expected to be the subject of a hearing soon.
Written by MMA Legislative Analyst Katie S. McCue