House Republicans kill Millett bill to ensure safe drinking water in schools
AUGUSTA — On Monday, the governor’s veto of legislation from Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, to ensure safe drinking water in Maine schools was overridden in the Senate but failed to receive the necessary two-thirds support in the House by three votes. The final vote was 31-3 in the Senate and 93-50 in the House.
As amended, the bill, LD 40, “An Act To Strengthen Requirements for Water Testing for Schools,” would have directed the Maine Department of Education to use existing funds to develop a grant program so Maine schools could test drinking and cooking water for lead contamination.
“Lead poisoning can have serious, long-term consequences on the developing brain of a child. It is simply common sense that we do everything we can to ensure the water in our schools is safe and lead-free,” said Sen. Millett. “I am deeply disappointed that my Republican colleagues in the House could not put politics aside to protect Maine kids in school from lead poisoning. Maine kids and families should be able to trust that the water in their schools is safe.”
Lead poisoning causes permanent and irreversible cognitive impairment. Children and their developing brains are especially at risk of damage from exposure to lead.
Current Maine law only requires water testing in schools that do not use public water sources. However, schools using public water sources are not immune to contamination. Several state investigations have found that schools using public water have tested positive for high lead levels. LD 40 would have closed this loophole and kept more children safe from harmful toxins.