Paint companies and lawmakers battle over who pays lead cleanup bill

Would you vote “No” on an initiative titled “The Healthy Homes and Schools Act”?

Probably not – unless you object to taxpayers footing the bill for toxic cleanup that might otherwise be funded by private industry.

When 10 California cities and counties prevailed in a lawsuit against three major manufacturers of lead-based paint, the paint manufacturers responded by backing efforts to put this initiative on the November California ballot. The initiative would reverse court orders declaring lead paint a “public nuisance,” and replace judgements against the paint companies with taxpayer-funded bonds for lead cleanup efforts.

In response to the initiative campaign, several California Assembly members have introduced a package of bills designed to make paint manufactures pay for at least some clean-up efforts, through fees or consumer lawsuits. The legislative package also includes provisions intended to increase the number of certified lead inspectors in the state.

Legislators and paint manufacturers may wrangle over how to fund the work, but it does seem likely that more efforts to clean-up lead hazards in California are on the horizon.

UPDATE May 18, 2018: One of the three paint manufacturers, NL Industries Inc., has dropped their support of the “Healthy Homes and Schools” ballot initiative as part of a settlement with the 10 California cities and counties involved in the lawsuit. The other two manufacturers are continuing to back the initiative, as of this date.

Read more:

Initiative text (pdf):

Summary of CA Assembly bills: