Ohio Investors are threatening to block local action around Lead Poisoning

Lead Poisoning Pre-emption shows advocates are winning

     A bunch of yahoos from NW Ohio have decided that they want to stop local initiatives around lead poisoning. They want to stop it in the worst way: by making Ohio Department of Health the sole entity that can address lead poisoning problems in Ohio.

     The yahoos in question are Toledo area landlords who were unable to sway Toledo City Council away from adopting a lead safe housing ordinance last year and again failed to repeal the portions of the bill they hate: the requirement to test properties for lead dust and report the findings to local government (and tenants).

    Having failed to persuade Toledo City Council that their right to sell a defective product to unsuspecting citizens was a primary public purpose, these "investors" found an Ohio House rep, Derek Merrin, to introduce an amendment to the budget bill that would restrict local governments from enforcing lead regulation, except as directed by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

    You remember ODH. For the past 25 years, ODH and their cohort of local public health departments have failed to test half of the at risk children in Ohio and have failed to follow up on poisoned houses. If the pre-emption passes, ODH will be the only entity in Ohio that can address lead issues.

    But wait...didn't President Trump promise ZERO FUNDING for state lead enforcement funding? Right now every dollar spent by ODH for lead enforcement activities comes from the Feds. Then no entity will enforce lead laws in Ohio.

    As Marvin Brown IV pointed out in a recent Plain Dealer article: "Statewide, he said, only about 3 percent of tested children are positive for lead poisoning. In some areas of East Cleveland, as many as 50 percent of tested children are poisoned." The fact that local communities bear the brunt of lead poisoning, the state has no right to bar local action.

    So, how does the move to pre-empt local initiatives show that the advocates are winning? Gandhi said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win." We're currently at a stage 3 alert: Call or email your State Senator on Monday morning and tell him or her: no lead pre-emption.

posted April 30, 2017
What is Pre-emption
Pre-emption is a strategy to block local initiatives. Most often conservative state legislatures use pre-emption to block popular initiatives in local communities
Why place restrictions in the State budget bill?
1. Budget bill is a "must pass" piece of legislation.
2. Items placed in the budget bill don't get any hearings or close scrutiny. Two examples of non-budget items in this year's bill here and here

What can you do?
1. Call or email State Senators with the message: we want you to remove lead poisoning pre emption from the budget bill.  I'll have some talking points posted shortly and send you the link.
2. Contact your local newspaper to alert them to the threat of local pre-emption. Even though Toledo is the target, the amendment could cover all local governments and agencies like schools, public housing authorities and private agencies with pass-thru funding from cities. See talking points in the right column.
3. Contact local elected officials. In addition to the talking points in the right column remind your local officials that this is another stab at home rule. Until local officials stand up to the overlords in the Ohio House, "home rule" protections will always be at risk.

Talking points when you are advocating against Lead Poisoning Pre-emption.

1. The Lead Poisoning Program at ODH has two serious flaws. First is that a child must be poisoned before the state can take action. Second is that state and local health departments have not been successful enforcing at blood lead testing standards (LINK) and not successful at removing poisoned houses from the rental market. (LINK)
2. The Pre-emption amendment is so poorly drafted that it could be used to prohibit or inhibit local housing code enforcement. In fact, this is a goal of the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association. (LINK)
3. Public Housing authorities (which are chartered under the laws of the state of Ohio) could be challenged over Housing Quality Standard inspections of rental properties in the Housing Choice Voucher program. These HQS inspections are required by Federal regulations.
4. State and local governments which pass through Federal funding to housing developers could be barred from requiring Federal Lead regulations. (LINK)
5. Ohio EPA would need permission from ODH to monitor lead regulations in drinking water systems.
6. Lead issues are inherently local and so denying local government the right to make and carry out local programs is nonsense.
7. If lead poisoning pre-emption is successful and ODH is the only agency in Ohio that can enforce lead standards, there could be a crisis later this year if Congress enacts budget cuts proposed by the President. (LINK) In the most extreme case, no one in Ohio would be able to do lead enforcement.
8. If enacted, the Lead Poisoning Pre-emption amendment would result in lots of costly litigation as investors seek to shut down existing regulations and advocates seek to preserve and expand them. Years of unnecessary court fights while children continue to be poisoned.
9. The supporters of Lead Poisoning Prevention amendment are a small group of "investors" who twice failed to convince the City of Toledo that their personal profits should come before the health and safety of children. Having twice failed in the local democratic process, they are now committed to sneak a provision into the State Budget bill without public discussion. 
10. Investor landlords are not "victims" of local regulation. Recent reports show that rental property investment in Toledo and Central Ohio are among the most profitable housing investments in the country.