TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senator Jim Beach that would allow school districts and nonpublic schools to receive reimbursements for costs incurred on or after January 1, 2016 for testing school drinking water for lead was signed into law today.
Last year, the Governor directed the NJ Department of Education to mandate all of New Jersey’s schools to test for lead in drinking water and asked the legislature to include an additional $10 million in funding to support the plan in the FY 2017 budget. The corresponding language provision stipulated that the reimbursement would be made pursuant to program requirements to be established by the Department of Education, which would be effective upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).
The department’s requirements stated that school districts would only be eligible to receive a reimbursement for lead testing performed after July 13, 2016. This law, S-2675, expands eligibility to nonpublic schools and allows schools to receive a reimbursement for lead testing conducted on or after January 1, 2016, but before the department filed the program requirements with the OAL, as long as the lead testing meets or exceeds the program requirements established by the department.
“You can’t put a price on the health and safety of any child,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “We know that there is no safe level of lead for children, and any neurological damage caused is irreversible. Reimbursing the public and nonpublic schools that tested their drinking water is the right thing to do.”
“This law recognizes the importance of our children’s health in New Jersey, and provides for the reimbursement of schools that took the initiative to test their water before the state mandated it,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden).
The law takes effect immediately.