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SAINT PAUL, MINN. – Today, Minnesota Republicans released a final supplemental budget that included no new prevention measures for reducing the incidence of toxic lead poisoning in the homes of Minnesota children. Language to help prevent childhood lead poisoning had been included in the Omnibus Jobs and Energy bill that passed the Minnesota House earlier in the session. State Rep. Karen Clark has been working to reduce the incidence of toxic lead for 38 years while serving South Minneapolis in the Minnesota House, and she expressed her outrage:
“For years, I have fought developers, landlords, the Chamber of Commerce and others who didn’t want Minnesota to do anything about childhood lead poisoning. But similar to what Minnesotans have seen this year with opioids, elder abuse, clean drinking water and so many other issues – apparently high-priced lobbyists speak louder than our constituents at the Capitol in St. Paul. This action to remove lead poisoning prevention language from the supplemental budget bill brings shame on this institution. Childhood lead poisoning is a completely preventable disease, but more than 700 kids in Minnesota every year are losing some of their ability to live a normal life because of toxic lead in their home environment. This is mostly a toddler’s disease because of their exposure to lead dust from crawling and mouthing behavior. Pregnant women are also at higher risk for fetal exposure. These neurological impacts are irreversible for life, along with the economic impacts on these children, their families, and our state. I had thought this year we could come closer than ever before to taking real steps toward eliminating this problem.”
Minnesota currently requires property owners to notify potential renters and home buyers of harmful elements like radon levels in a home, but there is a loophole regarding the presence of toxic lead. The property owner only has to disclose the presence of toxic lead if they know it is present. If they never test for lead, they can claim ignorance and are therefore exempted from disclosure. The bill being pushed by Rep. Clark, the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (HF 491), would give both renters and home buyers the right to know if there is lead present in a dwelling, and would have provided tax credits to assist property owners with remediation and “lead safe” clean up.
“Parents and families deserve the right to know whether or not there is toxic lead present in their home,” said Rep. Clark. “We can stop this totally preventable disease and its impacts by taking action.”
The Minnesota Legislature is set to adjourn for 2018 on Sunday, May 20 at midnight.
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