Long-awaited bill to protect Philly kids from lead paint finally passes City Council

Pat Loeb
September 26, 2019 - 3:36 pm
Advocates wait for Philadelphia City Council to pass a long-awaited bill that will require all rental properties in the city to be certified lead-safe by April 2022.

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council Thursday passed a long-awaited bill that will require all rental properties in the city to be certified lead-safe by April 2022. The bill generated controversy while it was being debated, but it passed unanimously.

Cheers went up from advocates who've spent two years working on passage of the bill, which is intended to address the large number of Philadelphia children with elevated blood lead levels.

A coalition of building owners had lobbied hard against it, prompting sponsor Blondell Reynolds Brown to make many changes until, she said, she realized there was no way to make the bill acceptable to them.

"I am exasperated that this issue is still affecting our children and I'm disappointed and saddened that we were not able to find common ground, but at some point, we can no longer talk about it. We have to be about the solutions," she said.

The bill ultimately passed unanimously partly because Brown agreed to cosponsor a bill introduced by Councilmember David Oh that would provide a tax credit for lead abatement costs. 

It was not the only child health bill Brown got passed Thursday as Council also approved a bill requiring restaurants that serve kids meals to offer milk as a beverage.

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Council also got several new bills to consider. 

Council President Darrell Clarke proposed a ban on guns at city parks and recreation centers. Councilmember Mark Squilla introduced a bill to require 500 feet between medical marijuana dispensaries to keep them from clustering in any one place, and Councilmember Allan Domb proposed wage tax relief for the working poor.

"People who are making less than $25,000 can barely put food on the table. They shouldn't be paying city wage tax," Domb said. 

Domb suggests families below the poverty level get annual rebates of about $800. 

And Councilmember Al Taubenberger introduced a bill that would bar developers who violate labor laws from getting the 10-year tax abatement.