Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is the Structural Pest Control Advisory Committee?

The Structural Pest Control Advisory committee meets this Thursday, the 29th at the Texas Department of Agriculture headquarters in Austin.  So what is this committee and what does it do?

The SPCAC met for the first time in March, 2008 following the dissolution of the Texas Structural Pest Control Board.  Members of the committee serve at the invitation of the Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples.  Committee composition is required by law to consist of two members who are experts in structural pest control application; three members who represent the public; one member from an institution of higher education who is knowledgeable in the science of pests and pest control; one member who represents the interests of structural pest control operators and who is appointed based on recommendations provided by a trade association of operators; one member who represents the interests of consumers; and the commissioner of state health services or the commissioner's designee. Experts in structural pest control on the committee include Tommy Kezar (CTN Educational Services) and Greg Orr (Terminix, Houston).  Public representatives include Peggy Caruso (Katy ISD), Johnny Hibbs (Carrollton/Farmers' Branch ISD) and Judge William Roberts (Attorney from Plano). Bill Stepan (Orkin Pest Control, Houston) was selected to represent the pest control industry and Dr. Thandi Ziqubu-Page represents the Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services.  I represent an institution of higher education and a consumer representative has yet to be appointed.

In one sense the Advisory Committee does nothing.  Unlike the previous Structural Pest Control Board, it has no statutory or rule-making authority.  But we do advise, and I believe the Department of Agriculture does listen.  So in essence all of us on the committee are your representatives, to ensure that your interests and the interests of all in Texas with an investment in pest control are represented in the halls of the TDA.

Of interest to schools this week the committee will be revisiting the CEU requirements for school IPM coordinators--a sticky issue for some committee members (including myself).  A draft proposal circulated this week shows that TDA has attempted to mollify different points of view by allowing IPM Coordinators to get their CEUs by either attending an approved, dedicated class designed on school IPM, or by earning CEUs through various conventional CEU forums.  Also to be discussed is a plan to allow use of sticky cards and glue traps by school IPM Coordinators if the traps are being used principally for monitoring and not pest control.  Clarification of this grey area should be welcomed by all parties involved in school IPM.

Other agenda items include updating members on the transition into a new licensing and inspection system, status of evaluations being made of the current Wood Destroying Insect(WDI)Reports, development of a Consumer Information Sheet for Exempted Activities, and discussion of possible modifications of how to obtain a structural fumigation license. Heady stuff, I know.

As always, the meeting will have a time for public comment and input.

If you have an issue of interest with regard to the way the Department administers laws and regulations affecting the pest control industry, here's your invitation. I invite you to drop an email to any of the committee members expressing your concern or input on a subject. I am not suggesting you shouldn't call us, but a clearly expressed email is much more likely to be carried by one of us to the meeting and discussed before the whole group.  The committee meets every three months, so you have plenty of time to compose your thoughts.

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