Villa initiative to advance protections against pesticides passes Senate

SPRINGFIELD – Following an incident in Illinois where over 20 migrant farm workers were exposed to the harmful effects of pesticides and became ill for multiple days, State Senate Karina Villa has passed legislation out of the Senate that will establish a penalty fee for anyone who is responsible for exposing another individual to pesticides.

“Safe working conditions should be the bare minimum for those working in Illinois,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “This legislation will help ensure safe conditions are upheld for farm workers and that they will not have to worry about pesticide exposure.”

Senate Bill 203 would establish different penalties if the Illinois Department of Agriculture determines a pesticide was applied in a way inconsistent with the label and results in the exposure of the pesticide to one or more individuals. For fewer than three individuals exposed, the fee would be $500 per person exposed; three to four individuals would be $750 per person exposed; and for five or more individuals, the fee would be $1,250 per person exposed.

“In 2019, there was an incident in Illinois where over 20 migrant farm workers were sprayed with pesticide three times in one week. This was a reprehensible abuse; at the very least all workers, whether or not they are migrant, deserve safe working conditions,” Villa said. “This legislation aims to hold those who expose others to pesticide responsible and to ensure safe conditions for farm workers are met. With the passing of this legislation from the Senate, I hope the farm workers see our commitment in Illinois to protecting our essential employees.”

Senate Bill 203 passed the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the House floor.