Health & Environmental Justice - St. Louis (HEJ) is submitting comments in support Senate Bill 751. Too many children have been poisoned by incompetent or unscrupulous contractors. While the majority of licensed lead contractors are honest, there are always some "bad apples". Without meaningful penalties those lead contractors will cut corners on safety and endanger families by not taking the simple steps to contain lead dust and work safely. HEJ knows of at least five families in St. Louis whose homes were more contaminated after the lead contractors left – and their children who were not poisoned before became poisoned due to the contractor’s failure to follow the law. This bill provides penalties for contractors to do what they are already supposed to be doing the law (notifying the State before starting lead jobs). Responsible contractors will not be affected. In fact, the law should reward responsible contractors and punish those who refuse to follow the law. With the passage of this bill, more of the work can be directed those honest and competent contractors who have demonstrated responsibility.
Children will be protected because the state and local governments can help make sure the work is done safely if they know about it in advance as the existing state law requires (Compliance with this law has been a problem in the past). Taxpayers will get their money’s worth from a lead remediation project – instead of federal, state and local funds being used to poison children, the money will be used to safely get the lead out.
Lead causes devastating and irreversible health effects in growing children, damages developing fetuses when pregnant women are exposed to lead, and inflicts huge societal costs in terms of health care, crime, special education, and decreased productivity. Senate Bill 751 puts teeth in the state’s laws requiring contractor competence and responsibility in getting the lead out.
--Kathleen Logan Smith
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