Local legislators were divided on a watered down bill that was aimed at protecting children from pesticides on school grounds.

The Maine House voted 76-65 on May 16 to approve an amended version of LD 837.

The original bill required that the use of pesticides on school grounds be restricted to situations that “pose a health threat to a student or staff member and when the presence of animals or insects have been identified as a public health nuisance.” The original bill also required the commissioner of Health and Human Services to adopt rules to provide similar restrictions on the use of pesticides on the grounds of child care facilities and nursery schools.

The House amended the bill, however, to be a resolve that directs the Board of Pesticides Control to “develop and disseminate best management practices for the establishment and maintenance of school lawns, playgrounds and athletic fields.”

The Board of Pesticides Control, attached to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, would also report to the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee by Feb. 1, 2012.

Local legislators were split on the amended version of the bill.

Voting for the amended bill were Republican Reps. Dana Dow of Waldoboro, Wes Richardson of Warren, Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea, and Jonathan McKane of Newastle.

Voting against the amended bill were Democratic Reps. Edward Mazurek of Rockland, Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, Joan Welsh of Rockport, Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville, and Water Kumiega III of Deer Isle.

Mazurek said he opposed the amended bill because it did not go far enough to protect young people from unnecessary use of pesticides.