Senator Yudichak and Members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure Discuss Legislative Recommendations of Advisory Committee and Task Force Report on Lead Exposure

Harrisburg, May 7, 2019 – Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and legislative members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure held a press conference today to discuss the legislative recommendations that were part of ‘Lead Exposure Risks and Response in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure.’ The legislative members of the task force included Senators Lisa Baker (R – Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Wayne Fontana (D – Allegheny), Judy Schwank (D – Berks), Pat Stefano (R – Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland) and Gene Yaw (R – Bradford/Lycoming/Sullivan/Susquehanna/Union).

“The members of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure, created by Senate Resolution 33, have worked tirelessly to analyze the public health threat of lead exposure and their report underscores that lead exposure is an issue in every Pennsylvania county. We come together today, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to advance the legislative policy recommendations put forth by the Joint State Government Commission that will better protect Pennsylvania children from the risks of lead exposure and lead poisoning,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

The advisory committee and task force made the following recommendations, several of which are being addressed through legislation announced at today’s press conference:

  • Require universal blood screenings for children;
  • Mandate inspections/certifications of child-care facilities with vulnerable populations;
  • Ensure safe housing is available to families through a residential rental property certification program;
  • Establish a statewide rental housing registry;
  • Establish a lead abatement grant program to assist property owners in conducting lead abatement;
  • Establish an interagency council to coordinate implementation of lead prevention programs and policies among the relevant state agencies;
  • Require all school drinking water systems to be inspected and certified;
  • Clarify plumbing system lead ban;
  • Permit municipal authorities operating public drinking water system to replace lateral lead service lines;
  • Require lead service line replacements and restrict partial lead water service line replacements;
  • Adopt the Uniform Property Maintenance Code; and
  • Provide guidance on private well construction.

Senator Lisa Baker and Senator Yudichak have introduced Senate Bill 312, which would require universal blood testing for children. Senate Bill 312 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“We have known for a while now how debilitating lead exposure is to the health and development of children. Recent revelations of lead tainted water in schools and homes have raised additional alarms. There is an obligation to have every child tested, in order to find out who has been affected, to monitor and treat those who have, and to locate the source of contamination so preventative measures can be taken,” said Senator Baker.

Senator Judy Schwank has introduced Senate Bill 39, which will require lead testing at child daycare programs. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to include lead testing of water, paint, soil and dust in the licensing process for child daycare programs. Senate Bill 39 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“My bill, SB 39, aims to protect children in day care programs by ensuring the facilities where they play and learn at the earliest ages are tested for lead,” Senator Schwank said.

Senator Gene Yaw will introduce legislation that requires all school drinking water systems to be tested for lead contamination.

“Lead contamination in schools and in public drinking water supplies is a real threat across our state and our nation,” said Senator Gene Yaw. “It’s unfortunate that schools, a place where our children spend much of their time, can have unsafe levels of lead in their water supply. The bill is one more step we can take to protect our children and school employees from potential health hazards.”

Senator Wayne Fontana plans to introduce a bill that will establish a statewide rental housing registry.

“Our fundamental job as public officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. With increasingly aging infrastructure throughout our Commonwealth, it’s imperative that we do all we can to help local communities on lead abatement projects,” said Senator Fontana. “We must also monitor the sources of lead contamination in our public spaces and in private homes, so that people are educated to what degree they may be exposed. As a result of the study recommendations, my legislation will establish a statewide rental housing registry that has been certified as lead free or lead safe so as to allow potential tenants to verify if housing they are considering will be safe for their families.”

Senator Pat Stefano will be introducing legislation that clarifies the plumbing system lead ban.

“Consumer education is key in preventing lead exposure. That’s why I am introducing legislation that would put educational information in the hands of consumers who may be most at risk for led exposure,” said Senator Stefano.

The Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure was formed after legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak, SR 33, was approved in 2017. The Joint State Government Commission released the report in April. The report is available online at http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/

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Watch Press Conference

 

Senate Democrats Question State Prison Closings

Harrisburg – January 18, 2016 – Opposed to the potential closure of correctional institutions across Pennsylvania, Sens. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), John Blake (D-Lackawanna) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) have spearheaded local meetings to examine the impact of facility closures to the region.

Since the recent announcement of upcoming correctional institution closures by the governor, Fontana, Blake and Yudichak have all been vocal critics of the proposed plan. This week, each of the three members spent time at facilities local to their district and at events focused on addressing the issues the potential closures could cause.

“While I support the Wolf Administration’s efforts to cut costs and operate state prisons more efficiently, I’m concerned that this decision is being made hastily and without enough consideration to community and economic impacts,” Fontana said.

“I am also disappointed in the Department of Corrections’ lack of responsiveness about its prison closure decision and selection criteria.”

Blake added, “I had the opportunity to tour SCI Waymart this week and discussed their specialized operations with some of the most dedicated and talented corrections employees in the Commonwealth. While I certainly appreciate the Wolf administration’s efforts to address the significant fiscal constraints in our state budget, decisions about our Corrections facilities are public safety issues. I do not believe that the consequences of closing any state prison have been fully vetted.

“I look forward to continuing our coordinated efforts to protect family-sustaining jobs in our communities. I also look forward to continuing public dialogue on this important matter in our town hall meeting in Carbondale and at upcoming Senate committee hearings.”

During a roundtable discussion at Luzerne County Community College today, Yudichak met with community leaders and advocates to learn more about the potential impact a facility closure would have on safety – for correctional officers working within the system and for those in the community where inmates may be transferred in the future.

“Auditor General DePasquale’s recent audit, that highlights a 10 percent spike in inmate assaults on corrections officers, should be a big red stop sign to Department of Corrections officials who want to close two prisons and push the inmate population over safe operational capacity standards,” said State Senator Yudichak. “The safety and security of the men and women who walk the toughest blocks in Pennsylvania should never become a casualty of tough budget decisions.”

Echoing the concerns of Yudichak at today’s roundtable discussion was Voices of J.O.E., an advocacy group for corrections officers and their families.

“Voices of J.O.E. believes that Governor Wolf should not close any prisons until the impact on corrections officers’ safety is fully understood,” said Don Williams, President of Voices of J.O.E. “The rush to cut costs may jeopardize the safety of a corrections officer on a block if this closure plan is not properly vetted.”

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