Paint companies could hand taxpayers the bill for hazardous lead paint cleanup under proposed California ballot measure

A proposed November statewide ballot measure could allow three of the nation’s biggest paint companies to hand California taxpayers a bill for the cost of cleaning up health hazards caused by lead paint.

The measure would place a $2-billion bond on the November ballot to fund the remediation of lead paint, mold, asbestos and other environmental dangers in homes, schools and senior citizen facilities. The initiative also would reverse a November state appeals court decision requiring three paint companies — ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams — to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for lead paint abatement. It also aims to block future lawsuits against the paint companies for similar claims.

Initiative proponents contend that the bond measure, which they’re calling the Healthy Homes and Schools Act, allows for a more wide-ranging solution to lead paint problems than a potential legal judgment. The bond would finance the cleanup of other environmental threats in addition to lead paint and would apply across the state instead of only in jurisdictions that filed suit against the companies.

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