Alesi Blasts Veto Of Lead Poisoning Bill

James S. Alesi

January 17, 2008

Senator Jim Alesi (R-Perinton) blasted Governor Eliot Spitzer’s veto of Alesi’s legislation, S.5784, that would strictly regulate the amount of lead that could be contained in children’s jewelry. Senator Alesi has carried legislation for years that would closely regulate the amount of lead that could be contained in children’s products, as well as requiring school districts to test drinking water fountains annually for lead levels.

"This country has seen a massive recall of millions of popular children’s toys in the past two months because of the high potential for lead poisoning," said Senator Alesi. "To veto this bill shows the Governor’s insensitivity to the health crisis that is currently facing our children."

In his veto message, Governor Spitzer argued against the lead levels suggested in the legislation, problems with the civil penalties imposed on those who knowingly and intentionally sell jewelry with lead, and cited enforcement and implementation issues.

"You can use technical jargon all you want, but the bottom line is that the damage done to children when exposed to even small amounts of lead, is irreversible," said Senator Alesi. "You can not go back to a child that is three, four or five years old who has been poisoned and say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll fix that bill next year.’ The damage is already done and irreparable."

Senator Alesi contended that similar legislation has been adopted in other states and it makes sense to maintain continuity in a global economy. Stronger legislation could then have been adopted, he argued.

"This legislation would have been a good first step in getting the lead out of children’s delicate systems and preventing tragic neurological damage," Senator Alesi said. "We long ago outlawed lead in paint and gasoline because of the same danger, yet we continue to fill our children’s toy and lunch boxes with the same damaging toxin. It’s time for New York state to get serious about removing these products from store shelves before they make their way into children’s hands, not through massive recalls after the fact. Despite the Governor’s veto, I will not give up the fight to ensure New Yorker’s, especially children, are protected from harmful substances."