Alert: Two important bills, one good, the other bad….

Reducing Lead Paint Health Hazards

As we’ve reported before, there is a campaign, spearheaded by Sarah Bucic and Amy Roe, to reduce exposure of Delawareans to toxic lead and lead compounds.

Two important things are now happening:

The DNREC air division is proceeding with a regulation to control sandblasting of lead paint on water towers. 
“There will be a hearing on this proposed amendment on July 12, 2018 beginning at 6pm at the Kent County Levy Court, 555 S. Bay Road, Room 220, Dover, DE 19901. Interested parties may present oral or written comments regarding the proposed changes at the public hearing or in writing to David Fees, Division of Air Quality, DNREC, State Street Commons, 100 West Water Street, Suite 6A, Dover, DE 19904, or by email to david.fees@state.de.us. The hearing record will remain open until July 27, 2018.”
This means you can send in comments until July 27th and we urge you to do so.  The official public notice is here.

We can’t figure out a simple link to the actual proposed regulation and permit, so disjointed is the State of Delaware about providing information online.  (Here is a response from the DNREC:

“You can find the proposed regulations and the permit for the water tank for “Reducing Lead Paint Health Hazard” by clicking on the embedded link you have for the public notice which brings up the public notice and lower down on that page is a link for the Register webpage. Click on Current Issue and when the current issue of the Register comes up, click on June 2018 Register and a list of the contents will come up. Scroll down to General Notices and click on the Source Category Permit to read it or scroll down to Proposed Regulations and then DNREC and then click in Regulation 1101 or 1102. Its all there.”)

A bill, HB 456,  has been introduced in the General Assembly to ban  future use of lead-containing coatings on “outdoor structures.”

From the synopsis: “This Act amends Titles 14, 16, 17, 26, and 29 of the Delaware Code to prohibit the use of lead paints on outdoor structures such as bridges, water towers, playground equipment, highways, parking lots, and utility towers and poles, in order to protect public health from the dangers of such paints.”  (Note that houses are not considered “structures” in this bill, but lead paints have mostly been banned from residential uses for a long time.)  The prime sponsor is Rep. Earl G. Jaques Jr. (D), and so far only Sen. Stephanie Hansen is listed as a cosponsor.  HB 456 has just been released by the House Health & Human Development Committee.

Comments:

The proposed DNREC regulation and HB 456 are complimentary, doing different things. The regulation would govern removal of existing lead paint coatings, HB 456 would prevent lead paint from being re-applied.  There is a gap, however:  The proposed DNREC regulation applies only to water tanks (towers), meaning that unsafe removal (sandblasting) of lead paint from bridges, etc, could continue.  HB 456 directs the DNREC to adopted the needed broader regulation. (Note:  An earlier version of this Alert incorrectly stated that HB 456 needed to be amended to do this.).

Action:   Contact your Senator and Representative, asking them to co-sponsor and support passage of HB 456.

Rep. John Kowalko sends this warning of a proposed constitutional amendment intended to further enrich the already-overprivileged: HB 460 was introduced on a Tuesday, will have a committee hearing on Wednesday and be brought to the House floor for a vote on Thursday.
It is the first leg of a proposed constitutional amendment and one might ask why such a matter of utmost significance is being rushed through in the final days of a session. Why is there no time for a fair assessment of the ramifications of a constitutional change. The woefully lacking excuse from the sponsor is that this bill will have to be passed again in its current form next session. That is a ridiculously disingenuous excuse to push a piece of legislation through a mostly uninformed (on this particular bill) legislature.
In fact HB 460 is an attempt to pass a Grover Norquist-type conservative dream known as a “balanced budget amendment.” The reality of such constitutional amendments is that they will establish a certainty of budgetary constraints that will place the services and programs of the most vulnerable Delawareans on the chopping block and establish regressive taxation policies that will hurt the working families, small businesses and poorer workers. The bill itself refers to the “Advisory Panel to the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) on Potential Fiscal Controls and Budget Smoothing Mechanisms” (Panel) as supportive and integral to the process. You may recognize the work of the “Panel” in its previous 2016 report that resulted in corporate tax cuts and the unforgettably damaging repeal of the “Estate Tax” at a tremendous cost to taxpayer revenue resources.
The most recent report of the Panel, referred to in HB 460 (lines 11-12) released 6/1/18 once more fails to even consider creating two additional Personal Income Tax brackets. It has the audacity to suggest taking away deductions from Delaware taxpayers as a way to reform Personal Income Tax. This is one of the most regressive taxation reform proposals that I’ve ever witnessed. It should come as no surprise considering the make-up of the Advisory Panel consisting of Chamber of Commerce and various conservative lawmakers and government agency heads..
I hope that all parties will consider and conclude that HB 460 and the use of the phrase “Budget Smoothing” is nothing more than regurgitation and relabeling of a textbook Balanced Budget Amendment. Balanced Budget Amendments set strident benchmarks for spending and revenue considerations. These benchmark plateaus may severely limit what services can be available subjecting them to a constitutionally required cut if the appropriations benchmarks are exceeded. The necessary social services and support programs for the neediest are often the first to be cutback or suffer the most severe consequences if there are across the board cuts.
This bill should not be passed at this time and a serious consideration of its intended and unintended consequences ought to be discussed with the entire General Assembly and the public over the course of the summer. In our opinion Kowalko is right:  Such an item should not be sneaked through the General Assembly.  We also note that unlike the lead bill, with TWO sponsors, HB 460 has THIRTY-TWO.  Governor Carney and the legislative leadership are letting big-business interests run the state.

ACTION: Call your Senator and Representative to OPPOSE HB460.

These are the last few days of the General Assembly and lots of shenanigans are in progress…..

Also, bad air days are upcoming, as is common in Delaware in summertime:  The Penn State Air Quality Forecast Office says:  “The arrival of an upper/mid-level ridge on Saturday will result in days with Appreciable and High risk for an ozone exceedance through the weekend and into next week.”

Alan Muller

 

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