The Senator from Maryland spearheaded passage of “Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Turf magazine announces with both regret and thanks that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md) is retiring from the U.S. Senate, reports the Associated Press (AP).

SenatorMikulskiMikulski, now in her fifth term, is the longest serving woman in the history of Congress. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 1987. Mikulski is 78. An AP article announcing her retirement describes her as a “tough, no-nonsense lawmaker”. The article also pointed out that she has been “fiercely protective” when it came to the environment, especially Chesapeake Bay issues.

As many of us remember, Mikulski successfully spearheaded an amendment in 2005 to expand the number of H-2B seasonal immigrant workers for small businesses, the great majority of these workers being employed in the landscape/lawn service industry.

Through the “Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act” many small businesses were allowed to bring returning immigrant workers to their companies without the workers being counted against the 66,000 H-2B visa limit imposed by Congress in 1991.

Said Mikulski at the time: “Businesses all over the country, including many right here in Maryland, are facing a crisis. American companies desperately need seasonal workers so their businesses can survive the summer.

“Without these temporary workers, many businesses could be forced to limit services, lay off permanent U.S. workers or, worse yet, close their doors. We can’t let this happen. That’s why I have fought so hard for the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act—a quick fix to the H-2B problem and help ensure that our companies get the workers they need to stay in business. I’m so proud to be joined by 93 of my colleagues today to stand up for America’s businesses.”

In 2006 approximately 134,000 H-2B workers entered the U.S., and in October of that year Congress extended the Act for one more year.

Efforts by Mikulski and several hundred small business organizations and companies—many of whom participated in special “fly-ins” to Washington to support further extensions of the Act—failed due to bitter political bickering.

Even so, the landscape and lawn service industry owes Sen. Mikulski a heart-felt thank you for her support and her tireless efforts on its behalf.