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Rep. Howard voted ‘no’ on lead paint bill; I would vote ‘yes’ (August 9, 2018)

To The Daily Sun,

As I look at the voting record of Rep. Raymond Howard, Jr., I see more and more instances where I would have voted differently. In my opinion, my views on many of these issues are more in line with the values of the residents of District 8 (Alton, Barnstead and Gilmanton), and I am running for N.H. state representative so that these views will be better reflected in votes in Concord and within the county.

Although I am a Democrat, many of these issues are non-partisan and should appeal equally to Republicans, to Democrats, and to independents. In fact, on many of these issues, the Republican-controlled N.H. House passed legislation that I agree with, but that Mr. Howard voted against. I have previously referred to his “no” votes on an anti-hate crimes resolution, and on a requirement that high school students be taught and tested on civics. Another example concerns lead paint. Early in 2018, the N.H. House passed SB-247, which requires blood testing for lead in all children age two and under. The bill also reduces the lead level at which the state is required to test a rental property for lead. In addition, the bill set up a program under which the state guarantees $6 million in loans for lead hazard abatement in rental properties. This bill had considerable bipartisan support, and passed the N.H. House 266 to 87. Rep. Howard voted against it.

The importance of this legislation to the health of our children is underscored by numerous facts. One such fact is that the housing stock in New Hampshire is among the oldest in the nation, much of it dating long before 1978 when lead paint was banned by federal legislation. Recent studies have shown that a high percentage of N.H.children have already been exposed to lead. Studies conducted in 2014 found that 15.2 percent of tested 5-year-olds had significant lead exposure. A group of almost 200,000 children age six through 18 had lead exposure rate of 37 percent.

There is no safe level of lead in the blood. In addition to the need for immediate medical treatment, a victim of lead poisoning is likely to suffer from the effects permanently. Children exposed to lead may require special education as a result of the neurological damage. The additional cost of special education is about $15,000 per year, so a child needing special education from K through 12 would add approximately $195,000 to the costs of that school district.

The impact of lead poisoning extends far beyond a child’s early years. The adult income of a child with lead poisoning is significantly reduced, which in turn reduces the ability of that adult to contribute to the community in numerous ways. There is also a strong correlation between childhood lead exposure and future criminal activity, resulting in other added costs to the community.

In my view, voting for the lead paint bill, SB-247, was the right thing to do. It was right for the children of New Hampshire, who will suffer throughout their lives if they are exposed to lead. And it was right for the taxpayers of New Hampshire, who save money in the long run if problems like lead paint are addressed early.

I would have voted “yes” on the lead paint bill; Representative Howard voted “no”.

Ruth Larson


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