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A Court of Appeals ruling in October upended Maryland┐s long-standing compromise between landlords and child safety advocates and opened the door to large liability judgments in lead paint cases, even for property owners who comply with state lead abatement standards. The job for the legislature this year was to provide a reasonable safety net for landlords who do the right thing while at the same time extending protections that will prevent more children from being exposed to lead in the first place. Pending legislation would accomplish the latter goal ┐ for example, by extending registration requirements to all pre-1978 rental properties ┐ but no comprehensive solution has emerged for the former. The best way now to address responsible landlords┐ needs is to pass a bill creating a study group to determine the feasibility and logistics of establishing a risk pool for those who meet the state┐s lead abatement standards.
April 6, 2012