Biden’s potential impact

Departments - Legislative Landscape

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January 6, 2021

The November elections were just like everything else in 2020. Pundits/pollsters/media had a lot wrong, results were contested and the nation remains hotly divided. The one area of agreement for most Americans is that 2020 couldn’t end soon enough, so we now turn the page toward 2021.

On Nov. 3, Americans submitted ballots in person or by mail in historic numbers. It took several days (in some cases weeks) for elections to be called, but the most important election was called by all major media outlets on Nov. 7 in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden by an electoral margin of 306 to 232, which is the exact same margin that President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The similarities and closeness of both races (in the electoral college, not the popular vote) are remarkable. Whether this electoral map holds true in 2024 will remain to be seen, but it is important to note that the nation remains hyper polarized and nearly deadlocked in multiple key electoral states.

During the next four years, will the partisan divides deepen or will compromise prevail? We hope the latter but want to turn toward what the Biden Administration means for the landscape industry.

H-2B

Opportunities

  • Biden hails from the state of Delaware which is a state with strong seasonal labor demands in landscaping, tourism, hospitality and seafood. The two senators from Delaware ,Coons and Carper, have been staunch supporters of H-2B reform and will hopefully continue to garner influence with the President on the need for H-2B reform.
  • Biden has openly stated on his transition website “Biden will work with Congress to reform the current system of work visas.”
  • Biden is committed to pushing immigration reform through Congress.
  • Biden has nominated Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, Mayorkas headed USCIS during the Obama administration and he has a track record of understanding the importance of the H-2B program.

Challenges

  • Biden has strong connections with labor unions who fundamentally oppose guest worker programs. Unions will have significant influence in this administration.
  • Labor unions are likely to hold key position at the Department of Labor and there are concerns over how strongly they will support and validate the labor certification process.
Between H-2B and environmental issues, the Biden Administration presents opportunities and challenges for landscapers.

Lawn care/Environmental Issues

Opportunities

  • Work with EPA personnel to further defend the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
  • Biden’s EPA will be more credible at the state and local level rather than Trump’s EPA, which was maligned as bad for the environment.
  • Climate change will take center stage and the landscape industry can use this as an opportunity to demonstrate how we are part of the solution.

Challenges

  • EPA could become less receptive to industry input on benefits when evaluating pesticides.
  • Biden may roll back some EPA decisions that may make lawn care practices increasingly burdensome.
  • The environmentalist anti-pesticide community that fundamentally opposes some of the practices and tools the lawn care industry uses will have strong influence inside the EPA and the White House.

In addition to our primary issues, we anticipate Biden pushing forward with a bold agenda on COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus; infrastructure; health care; and employment protections.

But President Biden’s ability to pass a bold agenda will hinge on his ability to work with a Congress that, like the country, is divided along partisan lines with razor-thin majorities.

All of this will unfold in the following weeks and months but there will certainly be opportunities and challenges ahead for the landscape industry as we turn the page on 2020 and begin 2021 with the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress.

Editor’s note: This article was written by NALP Government Affairs Department on Dec. 4, 2020. You can contact Bray at andrew@landscapeprofessionals.org for the most current information.