SACRAMENTO -- A bill to restrict aerial spraying near school zones has died in the Assembly after missing a deadline for committee approval.

AB1721, by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Oakland, had sought to keep pesticide applications for commercial ag and state pest-control programs a quarter-mile from schoolyards.

Titled the Healthy and Safe School Zone Act, the bill originally sought the quarter-mile buffer and extended it to a half-mile for chemicals that the state restricts.

But when Swanson saw his bill lacked the necessary support in the Assembly agriculture committee, he rewrote it to restrict only aerial applications that are "likely to cause off-site movement of pesticides," and set a uniform buffer at a quarter-mile.

Several counties impose their own school-zone pesticide buffers. The bill sought to impose a statewide standard.

The bill drew opposition from a list of ag groups, among them the California Agricultural Aircraft Association, California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, California Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Western Growers and Nisei Farmers League.

-- Wes Sander

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