Dakota’s Law Passes the Legislature

May 10, 2022

(Albany) - Yesterday, Dakota’s Law (S5024D Rivera /A7325 Peoples-Stokes), a bill to prevent and address instances of elevated blood lead levels in children, passed the Assembly. This bill is now on its way to Governor Hochul’s desk for her signature after passing the Senate last March. 

This bill requires lead screenings at every routine primary health care visit or annually for children until the age of six years old. Health care practitioners will also provide parents or guardians of children with guidance on lead poisoning prevention, including information on their right to an inspection if the child lives in an area of high risk. The bill will also require pre-kindergarten and kindergarten institutions to check if their enrolling students have been screened for lead exposure and provide them with educational materials on lead poisoning. This is the first bill of Dakota’s Law, a multi-bill effort to enhance New York’s childhood lead poisoning prevention measures. 

Dakota’s Law is the result of my constituent Tiesha Jones’ work to not only help her daughter Dakota, but to prevent other children from suffering her daughter’s fate,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “This bill will make a real difference in the lives of millions of children and parents in New York. We must do everything in our power to end lead poisoning in New York State and ensure our children are living in safe and healthy environments. I urge Governor Hochul to sign this important legislation into law."

"Lead contamination has plagued so many of our communities for decades to the detriment of our most vulnerable people,” said Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes. “This legislation is an important measure to address lead poisoning in our children and provides real solutions for communities and families to combat the negative effects of lead exposure. I look forward to this bill being signed into law.”

Dakota’s Law was written with Ms. Tiesha Jones, Senator Rivera’s constituent, based on her and her child’s experience with elevated blood lead levels. Ms. Jones was living in a public housing apartment in the Bronx with her family and took her daughter Dakota to the doctor for appropriate testing at the required ages, 12- and 24-months-old. Upon changing doctors at age 4, she was offered a lead screening and within this time frame, Dakota’s blood lead levels increased from 5 micrograms to 45. This left Dakota with permanent developmental challenges that affect her education. 

I am so excited that Dakota’s Law passed both houses. When we drafted this legislation, I wanted to make sure other mothers and families did not have to go through what Dakota and I had to,” said Tiesha Jones. “I hope the Governor recognizes how important this bill is for the health and success of New York’s children and signs this bill into law.”

The passage of this bill builds on the successful effort by Senator Rivera to lower New York’s State’s action level from 10 micrograms to 5, in accordance with recommendations from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children under six years old whose blood lead levels reach 10 micrograms face developmental toxicity, or permanent damage, due to lead exposure. By taking action when a child has a blood lead level of 5 micrograms, we prevent permanent damage by addressing the source of lead exposure and preventing the lasting damage of lead poisoning.