WASHINGTON, DC–Seeking to make "comprehensive, high-quality lawn and garden care accessible to all Americans," a coalition of House Republicans Monday introduced H.R. 4702, the Hastert-Armey Lawn-Care Reform Act.
"A healthy, productive, green lawn should be a reality for everyone, not just the rich," said Sen. Dick Armey (R-TX), co-author of the bill. "No American should be forced to endure crabgrass, uneven edges, and poorly aerated soil just because they can't afford a good landscaper."
Under the bill, states would be given financial incentives to provide residents with well-manicured lawns of uniform length. Working with designated local lawn-care providers, states would also subsidize turf-building, leaf-blowing, and hedge-trimming services–making allowances for fertilizer and decorative-bark deductibles–for residents earning less than $48,500 a year.
"It's time we took the reins of power from greedy, uncaring neighborhood associations, who all too often force the private citizen to shoulder much of the financial burden of caring for their lawns," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said. "How sad it is that we are the richest, most powerful nation on Earth, yet millions of us do not have access to a good herbicide for our broadleaf weeds."
The bill has already received hearty endorsements from several leading suburban environmental groups, as well as grass-roots support from those living in nitrogen-poor areas.
"No longer will you or your neighbor have to live with discolored turf, dead spots, and inadequately pruned shrubs," Armey said. "From now on, all Americans, regardless of how soft their soil is, will enjoy the right to quality weeding, mowing, and irrigation. This bill will give each and every lawn the tender, loving care it deserves."
Though Democratic critics argue that the establishment of a federal lawn-care system would increase administrative costs while depriving the individual of his choice of lawn-care providers, most are willing to support the bill in principle.
"The bill, as proposed, is not without flaws," Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) said. "As it stands, it will benefit John Deere, Scott's, and the other companies that make up Big Lawn as much as it does the average homeowner. But it is undeniably a step in the right direction."
If passed, the bill would provide full fertilizer coverage for the estimated 22 million U.S. lawns that are currently uncovered.
"We cannot afford to take the health of our nation's lawns for granted," Armey said. "But for every problem, I have full confidence that American landscaping know-how can find a solution, whether it be hardy perennial grasses, dwarf shade trees, or even full-scale resodding. We will find a solution, because we must. After all, what is more important than having a nice lawn?"