Residents criticizing lead paint legislation

They request more funding, tougher enforcement

February 17, 2005|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Dozens of Baltimore residents and community leaders urged lawmakers yesterday to support tougher enforcement and increased funding to combat lead paint poisoning, instead of legislation they criticized as being riddled with loopholes for landlords.

Led by the community group ACORN, the opponents of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s lead paint initiative argued at a joint hearing of two House of Delegates committees that current laws would go a long way to ending lead poisoning, if city and state inspectors enforced them more aggressively.

"House after house is out of compliance," Dennis Livingston, a carpenter from Baltimore and the author of Maintaining a Lead Safe Home, told the House Environmental Matters and Health and Government Operations committees. "It is an absolute disaster."

Ehrlich is proposing a measure that would require earlier action to treat children with lead poisoning and require landlords to move more quickly to reduce lead hazards in housing once a child has been poisoned. The proposal is part of a nationwide effort to end childhood lead poisoning by 2010.

Although virtually all interests in the lead poisoning issue support earlier action to help children, there are opposing views on other aspects of the governor's plan, including the proposed 30-day grace period for the new owner of a house that already was cited for lead poisoning violations.

Kendl P. Philbrick, the state's environmental secretary, told the committee he believes the governor's legislation will strengthen existing lead laws. He added that the governor has provided funding in his budget to increase lead poisoning enforcement efforts.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration voiced support for the bill in general but told the committee that the mayor would like an amendment that would restore $375,000 to the city's budget for enforcement efforts.

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