ANNAPOLIS – The Senate gave tentative approval Thursday to two very different bills dealing with the problem of toxic lead paint in older buildings.
Both measures, already passed by the House of Delegates, were advanced without debate. They are likely to receive final Senate approval within days.
One bill could mean a small victory for landlords. It relaxes the stringent requirements of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program passed last year, under which all exterior surfaces of a building must be lead free. Under the proposal, only outside walls that are chipping or peeling would have to have underlying lead paint removed.
Opponents complain that this and other such measures introduced this year will gut new laws to protect tenants of older buildings.
The second bill extends the funding mechanism for a Community Outreach and Education Program for residents of housing that contains lead paint.
Last year’s law creating the program requires all landlords to pay an annual $5 fee to the state. Landlords who own property with lead paint must pay an additional $5 fee. Half these fees are placed into the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, while half are allocated to local governments and nonprofit organizations.
Under current law, landlords who own lead-free properties will not have to pay a fee after 1999. The bill postpones this remission to the year 2000. Lawmakers estimate that, starting in 1998, at least $750,000 will be generated annually to fund the Outreach Program. -30-