The U.S. Senate will soon begin considering new legislation regarding the Lead Renovation, Repair & Painting Rule (LRRP). Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe is introduced the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 (S 2148) in an effort to improve the original law's impact on both homeowners and remodelers. Five other republican senators are co-sponsoring the bill: Sens. Charles Grassley (Iowa), David Vitter (La.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Tom Coburn

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced on Friday that it supports the Senator's efforts. "We applaud Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues for sponsoring this bill to make much-needed improvements to EPA's lead paint rule during this busy time in Congress," said 2012 NAHB Remodelers Chairman George Moore, Jr. "If this effort is successful, it will reduce the regulatory burden for remodelers facing costly penalties for first-time violations like misfiled paperwork and allow homeowners to make the final decision about renovations in their homes."

In the statement, Senator Inhofe called the amendment a "workable" solution to the challenges presented by the LRRP rule. "I have always supported the intent of LRRP, which is to protect children and pregnant women from lead exposure, but EPA's implementation of the rule has long been botched and in need of a legislative fix," Inhofe said. "Today we have a bill that will make sure that those who are most vulnerable to lead exposure receive the full health protections in this rule."

Provisions of the Amendment

Of primary interest in the bill is the reinstatement of the opt-out LRRP provision. The rule's original language included a clause that allowed homeowners opt-out of RRP compliance if there were no children or pregnant women in the home. In April 2010, EPA announced they would eliminate that opt-out language; the change took effect the following July. Sen. Inhofe's bill would reinstate the provision and would also suspend LRRP for homes without small children or pregnant women residing in them, if EPA cannot approve one or more commercially available test kits that meet the regulation's requirements. Additionally, the bill works to reduce the penalties remodelers face when correcting errors in RRP documentation, and would provide an exemption for emergency renovation. According to the language of the bill, emergency renovation is defined as work that "was not planned and results from a sudden, unexpected event that, if not immediately attended to, presets a risk to the public health or safety or threatens to cause significant damage to equipment or property."

Finally, the amendment calls for changes to the recertification requirements, including eliminating the requirement that training be hands-on.

"We need to concentrate our efforts on helping the families that this law was designed to protect," Moore said. He suggests that the provisions in the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 would encourage greater compliance with the law. "Common sense exemptions for emergency renovations and online recertification training are necessary improvements for remodelers and homeowners to fully comply with the rule."

Inhofe said he looks forward to seeing this bill move through the legislative process. "This legislation is the latest effort in a series of improvements my colleagues and I have been able to secure for LRRP, and I look forward to working with them to pass a bill that is sure to have bipartisan support." The bill is still in search of Democratic co-sponsors.

Remodeling will continue to monitor this developing legislation and its impact on the remodeling industry.