T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act of 2008

"Don't just lament about it - do something about it!"

This is one of the mottos I live by. Recently I've learned about the new legislation passed for children's products. Basically, all products containing potentially hazardous amounts of lead, regardless of manufacturing date have to be either tested or not sold.

This was of concern to me because I do so much shopping for toys and children's clothing at thrift stores and consignment stores. The local consignment stores are just small businesses and this could be what causes some of them to close their doors - something we do not need to see in these harsh economic times.

I do not see this impacting the thrift stores all that much or even some of the clothing consignment stores. Only those consignment stores that sell predominantly children's toys. However, those who I can see potentially being affected are those folks that make handmade items. I purchased these at a local Christmas bazaar. They are amazing quality. The ball was $4 and the rhino was $5. Not to mention made in the USA! The lead containing products are mainly coming from China.

So rather than lament, I did something. I wrote to my congressman. Here is the response:

Dear Jennifer:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the new lead testing requirements for children’s products. I appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to respond.

I have heard from small business owners and manufacturers across Idaho who are concerned about the implementation of new mandates of H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act of 2008. The new lead and phthalates testing requirements, which go into effect on February 10, 2009, will burden them with costs many say they will not be able to afford. Under the law, any children’s product with more than 600 ppm total lead may not be sold in the United States, even if they were manufactured before February 10. I recognize that the most disconcerting piece of the regulation is that it requires testing for all children’s products retroactively. All products containing potentially hazardous amounts of lead, regardless of manufacturing date, must be either tested or removed from shelves.

Confusion regarding new regulations is creating enormous problems for responsible manufacturers who want to do the right thing but may incur considerable costs complying with the law before the rules and regulations are finalized. In some cases, this confusion could put manufacturers out of business at a time when our economy can ill-afford any unnecessary and avoidable job losses. I recently wrote to the Acting Chairman of the CPSC, Nancy A. Nord, to express my concern over this issue. Toy manufacturers are still awaiting further clarification from the CPSC on exactly what products are considered safe.

Although the CPSP recently clarified the law to exempt thrift and consignment shops from this testing, it still directs resellers that they must avoid selling second-hand products that are likely to have lead content. Those who continue to sell products that likely have lead will be in violation and face civil and/or criminal penalties.

I have also contacted the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to request that they promptly hold hearings to explore the implementation of the law and consider if any revisions are necessary that would maintain protections for children but lessen the burden on small businesses and manufacturers. I specifically requested that the Committee focus on the retroactive nature of the law, which has been the main source of discord in its implementation. After I wrote that letter, Ranking Member Barton also requested hearings, and has suggested to Chairman Waxman that the February 10 date be delayed to ensure proper implementation of the law.

Neither the goals of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act nor the motives of the CPSC in implementing the law are at question; in fact, I voted for the passage of the bill in Congress. I strongly support robust consumer protections on any product that comes into contact with children and believe parents must be afforded every assurance that the products they purchase for their children are safe. That said, the unintended consequences of this law may have a devastating effect on manufacturers and small businesses in Idaho, and all efforts must be made to ensure that the law is implemented in a responsible way to protect both children and those who make a living selling products designed for children.

I will continue to closely monitor this situation as it develops, and will keep your thoughts in mind should a bill come before me on the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about this issue. As your representative in Congress, it is important to me to know your thoughts and opinions about issues affecting our nation today. I also encourage you to visit my website, www.house.gov/simpson, to sign up for my e-newsletter and to read more about my views on a variety of issues.


Mike Simpson

Member of Congress

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