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Costly mandate on lead moves ahead in House.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation that could have a devastating impact on housing and day care activities in local communities.

The bill, the Lead Exposure Reduction Act of 1992 (LERA), was approved by a 39 to 4 vote August 5. The bill is designed to create training and certification standards for personnel who perform activities that may increase the risk of lead exposure to workers and children (see Nation's Cities Weekly, August 3).

The bill also would require all day care centers to test for harzardous levels of lead based paints. This will impact cities in three ways: first, the city will be responsible for all testing and, if necessary, abatement costs if it operates day care centers. It will also be liable for any chidren found to be contaminated with lead.

Second, a city may be liable for a day care that is operating in a city-owned multi-family unit. For example, the City of Detroit own a six unit apartment building. In that building a family provides day care services in a unit that is contaminated with high levels of lead based paint, the city may be liable for the damages incurred by that child.

Finally, private and family day care providers may go underground to avoid the testing requirements. At a time when cities are making efforts to ensure that safe and affordable child care is available to its residents, this bill could effectively destroy the work that has been done thus far.

The House Education and Labor Committee has received a sequential referral which will allow them to review the training and child care provisions of the bill. Rep. William Ford (D-MI) has questioned the feasibility of passing this legislation at this point in time. He is concerned that the president will veto the bill on the grounds that it is an unfunded mandate. Children's advocates and unions are pushing aggressively to see this bill passed this session.
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Author:Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Aug 17, 1992
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