Connecticut Legislature’s Environment Committee demanded immediate bans of plants that are worth an estimated $18.7 million to the state’s nurseries, garden centers and landscapers.
The committee raised two bills, the first banning all forms of Norway maple, barberry, euonymus and multi-flora rose. The second bill imposes a fine of $100 per plant for violation of the ban. Neither of the bills would provide financial compensation to growers or retailers of the plants.
The bills also do not provide any kind of phase-out program for the plants. For example, the bills do not distinguish between the green barberry, a plant acknowledged by the industry as invasive, and the burgundy cultivars, which may not be invasive. A new study at the University of Connecticut is in the process of funding a program to determine genetically where invasive forms of barberry and euonymus originated.
Appointed since June 26, 2003, members of The Connecticut Invasive Plants Council meet regularly to discuss invasive-plant education, publish a list of invasive and potentially invasive plants, and relate to legislature the invasive plants that are beneficial to research. The council has set up a nine-member committee to study the invasive-plant problem and make suggestions to the legislature.
The council is responsible for determining which plants should be banned and studying the economic impact these bans will have on the industry. Representatives from five major Connecticut nurseries will testify before the Invasive Plants Council on March 23, 2004 to discuss the impact of plant bans.
According to the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association (CGGA), there could be a total of $18,781,000 impact to the state’s green industry if plant species were banned outright. CGGA also stated that Connecticut’s 6-percent sales tax would be applied to the $12.4 million sales of the retail column, making a loss of nearly $1 million in sales-tax revenue to the state if plants were banned. This does not include the loss of staff salaries, employment and corporate taxes.
"How would the plant bans work, and who would enforce them?" Bob Heffernan, executive director for CGGA, asked the legislators. "The problem with invasive plants is that most all are spread innocently. Many of these plants are popular with Connecticut’s citizens. And what about out-of-state companies selling these plants to our people?"
Heffernan urged, "The Legislature must give the Invasive Plants Council adequate time to study all of this and report back intelligently with proposed solutions."