N.H. lead poisoning prevention bill heads to Sununu’s desk

  • Gov. Chris Sununu speaks earlier this month in support of Senate Bill 247, a bill to address lead hazards in New Hampshire homes. Now that the bill has passed the state Senate and House Sununu is expected to sign it. Ethan DeWitt / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Thursday, January 18, 2018

A bill to reduce lead hazards in New Hampshire passed its final legislative hurdle Thursday, heading to the governor’s office after the Senate approved final changes employed by the House.

In an 18-6 vote, New Hampshire senators voted to concur with of Senate Bill 247, which would establish universal lead testing for all 1- and 2-year-olds in the state and impose new requirements on landlords to remove lead hazards. The legislation would also create a $6 million revolving guaranteed loan program to assist landlords in lead removal from the state’s older housing stock.

The bill passed the Senate last year, originally featuring a $6 million grant program for landlords. That was modified to a loan program by the House, which approved the bill earlier this month.

Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, a longtime champion of the bill, celebrated Thursday’s vote.

“This is the most significant and comprehensive effort to date in New Hampshire to address the public health problem of childhood lead poisoning from paint and from water,” he said in a statement.

Six Republicans – including Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem – opposed the bill. Speaking after the vote, Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, said that, while he has worked with Feltes on lead bills in years past, he felt the bill doesn’t adequately define the source of the child’s lead levels, and that the costs of removal could hit landlords hard.

“By putting this huge remediation expectation directly and solely on landlords, which may not be the prime place where an individual ingested the lead, (the bill) will lead to significantly higher rents, negatively affecting the most economically vulnerable,” Sanborn said.

But Gov. Chris Sununu hailed the measure and vowed to sign it.

“Today the Legislature signaled that every family, regardless of their means, should have the opportunity to make sure their children are as healthy as possible,” he said. “I look forward to signing this significant legislation into law.”

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)