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Governor vetoes bill to remove lead from water at schools

Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill proposing the removal of lead from water at schools and state buildings, calling it too broad and raising concerns about cost. Senate Bill 1144, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, on behalf of the California State Pipe Trades Council, passed easily through the Legislature but faced opposition from some school organizations over concerns about the unfunded costs of the bill.

The bill would have required school districts to put together water efficiency and quality assessment reports outlining lead levels in each building. Fixtures and appliances that didn’t meet the standards would have had to be replaced, including lead pipes, depending on the state funding. Lead is known to be highly toxic and harmful to children’s health and cognitive development.

“The Board regulates water systems; however, oversight of internal plumbing at the individual building level is not a function of the Board,” Newsom wrote in the veto message. “Developing new expertise to adequately implement this bill and develop regulations would require significant new staff and resources.”

Opposition to the bill included groups such as the Association of California School Administrators, the California Association of School Business Officials and Los Angeles Unified. Those in favor of it included the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association and the California Water Association.