Sunday, May 31, 2009

Video: Thomson West Product Safety Survey/Intervie w

Let's see what fun the next video brings us.

This is actually my favorite video so far. It is effectively a monologue/interview with Thomson West, a former Executive Director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He is articulate and knowledgeable, and he answers a very important series of questions:

1. Are people more worried about product safety? "Yes"
2. What is the real state of product safety today? It is "better than it's been for quite a few years." There are "more standards...regulators...awareness..ability to share more information about products."
3.How well equipped is the CPSC to monitor product safety? "All Congress/all Presidents (regardless of parties) have allowed the agency to shrink to less than half of what it was when I was there."...this with a drastic increase in the number of people in this country and... products...
4.What advice would you give to consumers about product safety? "Make sure products are appropriate for child - don't disregard age warnings...and read the labels."

That was it. Short and sweet and to the point. No hype, no scare message. And this from a man who's job was product safety!

Video: DeGette investigates product safety

Next video

Starts right in with Congresswoman DeGette asking about food safety. This video is just over 6 minutes long. First 5 minutes were about food. It also started acting up during last minute or so, so not sure what was said, but my guess would be more food than CPSIA. Not one I would recommend bothering with if your interest is just the timeline of CPSIA.

Video: DeGette works to strengthen product safety

Next video in series at whatistheCPSIA website and on you tube.

This video deals with both unsafe food problems and unsafe toys. Much is made of the "flood of hazardous products" and the "safety of imports" and "how the government regulates imports". As a mother, I understand those concerns, especially after the rash of recalls of the toys from China. But how did Congress go from these legitimate concerns to the massively toxic bill that became CPSIA? That's where I get confused! The video goes on to talk about needing "more overseas inspectors" and discusses forcing "companies to have products certified". But again, at that point, we're still dealing specifically with imported toys.

The video title mentions Congresswoman DeGette. She doesn't appear until 2 minutes into the 2 1/2 minute video, but at that point the sound cut out, at least when I was watching it. So I have no idea what "words of wisdom" she added here. If anyone else could actually hear what she said, please let me know.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Video: Hearing on Consumer Safety Legislation: DeGette's Questions

This "exciting" video shows Representative DeGette hammering Nancy Nord. (You can also go straight to the video here on you tube.) I ponder again how she stuck it out in this job as long as she did! Nancy, we applaud you!

DeGette starts right in on Nord, I want to ask you about the " issue...appearance of impropriety?"

Then she changed her attention to the real issues at hand, also want to, "Ask you about these recalls...recalls are going up..." Would you agree that it's "because of increasing imports from abroad?"

Nord: No, the overall recalls have been inching up for years.
Nord: "Yes...lead paint violations were for Chinese made products." But then Nord wisely pointed out that the toys that caused all the ruckus broke existing laws. (Someone please remind me what positive things were accomplished with this new and "wonderful" CPSIA?)

Video: Hearing on Consumer Safety Legislation: Schakowsky's Opening

This video can be found at whatisthecpsia's video channel or on you tube. It is the most depressing one I've watched so far tonight.

It is from the early days of the drafting of CPSIA (Nov 2007), and is an Opening Statement in a Hearing on the legislation by Representative Schawosky.

Ms. Schawosky is very proud of the work they had done on the legislation at this point, pointing out that "...millions and millions of products that have been recalled and found dangerous to our children in the face of their death and injury....these products that have been hurting our poisoning and cribs killing their babies...Americans should be able to trust government to protect them..."

It was a rather disturbing display of exaggeration and finger-pointing...Based on this speech, one would have thought that hundreds of children had been poisoned by the recent rash of toxic toys...and that corporations had little to no concern for the safety of our children. And that the law was only going to be designed to protect small children from these dangerous toys and cribs.

I wonder how we got from this point to a law that deals with ALL children's products, up through the age of 12? Including products like books and clothes and bikes that had never caused the types of problems she was referring to?

I am a mother. I love my children. Frankly I trust myself to protect them much better than the government or big corporations!

Video: NAM's Timmons Discusses CPSC legislation with Bloomberg TV

2nd video at Or you can go right to this particular one here at you tube.

Bloomberg, Money and Politics with representatives from the National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Pirg, representing consumer "interests".

Question asked was does the CPSC Legislation (CPSIA) give the CPSC too much power?
Consumer person says, no, and consumer groups are encouraged. He also says we need to strengthen the CPSC so they can go after "Corporate wrong doers" He also complains that there is too cozy a relationship between the CPSC and multi-national corporations..."It's a real mess and wrong doers are not held responsible."

The Manufacturer says that the Civil penalties go too far, and that "51 cops on the beat" (State Attorney General offices plus CPSC) is not a good idea -- especially since State AG's can be politically motivated. He agreed that the CPSC needed more resources and that Congress and the Executive Branch needed to work cooperatively.

I'm disturbed by the generalizations that the Pirg guy makes, especially grouping all of us effected by this law into the same boat with the multi-national corporations who actually caused the problems, and to so quickly label us as "wrong doers"...Anyone want to guess which gentlemen this Mom agreed with?

Video: Senate Hearing on Product Safety

Well, I've started watching the videos that have been posted on's website. Can also go right to this one on you tube here.

The first one was depressing, to say the least. Watching Senator McCaskill rip into Nancy Nord, the acting Chairperson of the CPSC (at that time) was outrageous! The Senator tells her, "You have got the parents of America that are outraged that they are buying products from manufacturers like Mattel...part of our cultural land of toys in America, and they are scared and this article has exposed..."

Wait a minute, Ms. McCaskill, I don't know of any parents who were running scared over the "toy scare", and as a leader in the homeschool community, I know LOTS of parents! And none of us would have been blaming Ms. Nord or the CPSC for the toy troubles. We would have been blaming Mattel.

The only positive part of that first video was watching Senator Nelson, another Democrat, come to the defense of Nord, and explaining that her hands were tied by the White House.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Original CPSIA

Every time I need to double check which of our representatives voted for this toxic law, I have to hunt for it again. So, once and for all, or again, as the case may be, I'm putting the link to it here in my blog:

GovTrack is the place to find the bill itself, its toxic timeline, and the list of the representatives and senators who voted for it (Oh, and the 4 that voted against it -- Kudos to Representative Ron Paul of Texas, Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Jon Kyle of Arizona, and Thomas Coburn of Oklahoma for voting against it!!!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Check out "What Is the CPSIA" Website

For more information to specific questions you might have about CPSIA, be sure to check out a new website: What is the CPSIA? Explaining the Facts and Dispelling the Myths about the CPSIA

There are questions and answers for many of the issues surrounding CPSIA. If you have any specific questions about this law, that you don't see answered there, let me know here, or leave a comment there. We are trying to make the website as comprehensive as possible.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lawmakers Call For Clear Toy Safety Standards

After having sat through all 17 videos of the briefing of the Effects of CPSIA on Small Businesses conducted this week by the Committee on Small Business:
Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, I was very disappointed to read the Chairman's Press Release on the briefing. Did Mr. Jason Altmire actually sit through that entire briefing and still write up such a release?

The briefing was see the numbers spelled out, and the damage detailed that this law is doing, unchecked by Congress. And then to have Mr. Altmire blame the CPSC instead of Congress. All I can say is, what audacity!

Stop blaming Nord, and the CPSC. This is Congress' mess, and Congress needs to get the lead out and fix this toxic law before even more damage is done.

Briefings #14 - 17

Briefing #14
These next videos showed questions and answers for various witnesses that had appeared earlier. I was impressed with the answers, I was not impressed with the questions themselves. They made me wonder if the committee had fallen asleep during the earlier testimonies...

Ms. Lang was asked about the small batches that she produces. What type of savings/relief would there be if she could rely on the tests conducted by her component suppliers instead of having to test the end product? She pointed out that not having to test for lead would be very helpful, but she also wisely noted that most fabric would not be tested for phthalates, since it isn't generally intended specifically for teething products -- so would also require an exemption to that requirement.

Back to Ms. Shreiber, and her personalized items -- everything would have to be tested under the current law -- couldn't even quantify the formidable costs under current restrictions. CPSIA, as stands, will result in her closing her business.

In regards to older items, being resold, question was asked: "Any economically feasible way for resellers to determine which products could be legally sold?" Her response, "Economically, I believe there is not." The cost of one testing gun, not including labor, is around $20,000.

And the last question was particularly troubling: "Overly burdensome regulations can put small businesses on an uneven playing field...Small businesses don't have the compliance resources..." Can you address that? (What had they been doing so far?)

Briefing #15
Has the stay of enforcement on testing helped or not?
Yes and no. It has helped those with lead free products that don't have to test for now. But for those who have lead issues, or in the case of resellers, the stay has not helped at all.

"If nothing changes in the law, when the stay is over, you may have to shut down your business?" "No, I WILL have to shut down if the law is not changed."

Briefing #16
This questioner seemed to me to be asking questions that shouldn't have needed to be asked, let alone answered:
"If one of problems CPSIA tried to resolve was lead in toys from overseas manufacturing, does it make sense to you that most of the testing labs are overseas?"

"The FDA has guidelines to exempt certain food items, would something similar help for CPSIA?"

And I really loved this question: "Has the Commission provided sufficient guidance?" (We want you to blame them for your problems, not us here in Congress who wrote the law...)

Briefing #17
The Chairman promises, "This is just the first step...And we're going to work to try to come up with a solution to this problem....Members of the committee have 5 days to submit written statements."

Briefing Video #13

David McCubbin of McCubbin Hosiery came before the Committee to discuss the impact of the CPSIA requirements on his and similar businesses.

He spoke of the CPSIA as well intentioned, but that it "has had massive consequences". He went on to explain that the "legislation's broad scope has impacted thousands of products for which the measured concerns are not material."

He went on to explain that no reliable tests even existed for textiles, and that these tests have caused "considerable expense" and "strained relations with customers and suppliers".

Mr. McCubbin continued, pointing out that these lead content limits have..."been laid upon the apparel industry in such blanket fashion without regard to any historical evidence or suggested likelihood that harmful amounts of lead are found in the products. In short, we are asked to search at considerable expense for something that does not exist nor has been alleged to exist."

The tests alone will cost his company in excess of 1/2 million dollars in the first 12 months, and that's before the undue burdens that will be caused by the GCC and tracking label requirements.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How CPSIA Affects Small Businesses Video 12

Ok, back to watching the videos of the briefing. The more I watch, the more troubled I am at the stubbornness of those who have the power to fix this disaster and sit back and do nothing.

I was shook up by the previous videos where the women with home businesses discussed their losses under this law, and by the video with the woman from the Resellers Franchises. But for some reason, this next video upset me even more. Maybe I'm just hitting saturation point on being able to deal with the foolishness of those who still support this disastrous legislation:

Video #12 -- Mr. Vittone, Vice President of SwimWays, a small, family owned company employing about 70 employees, and offering over 100 different products. Mr. Vittone discussed the double whammy his company got in 2008 from the economy and the CPSIA, which together created "a perfect economic storm for us."

He focused on the phthalate ban, and its effect on his company, since it is giving them the most difficulty. For their company at least, the timing of the phthalate ban was the single biggest disaster of the CPSIA. Similar bans in other locations have given businesses 13 - 15 months to comply, giving them an opportunity to go through their existing inventory. CPSIA gave them less than 5 months -- during an off season of a very seasonal business. And then, with the General Counsel Opinion applying the phthalate ban to only new merchandise, they had some breathing room -- until a New York Judge overruled the CPSC, giving their business, and the businesses they supply less than 4 days to find and withdraw implicated inventory. Needless to say, this law has already been costly beyond belief to this company and many others -- and children are no safer because of it!

More for CPSC and against Nord

Nancy Nord is the acting head of the CPSC, and as the videos from the briefing yesterday showed, she is doing as good a job there as anyone possibly could with the hand she has been dealt by Congress. She is not the enemy, and she is not week.

But so many out there in media land seem to miss no opportunity to criticize her and the work she is doing. Now that Obama has picked his choice for her replacement, many are at it again. Yesterday's Sun Sentinel is another example: "Obama's pick for product safety chief holds promise, but has big task ahead"

The article starts by lauding Obama's pick, Tenenbaum, which is fine; we're all entitled to our opinion. But it doesn't stop there. It goes on to criticize how the CPSC has fallen down on the job. It does give some of the blame to Congress, but only in regards to the financial issues it has had: "who decimated its budget and staff in an era of advanced globalization."

But then the author goes on to blame Nancy Nord for the current problems at the CPSC: "But much of the blame falls on an uninspired, meek leadership that refused to require more from manufacturers and fight for consumer interests."

I beg to disagree. Nancy Nord is fighting hard for consumer interests, as she tries to help us keep the countless small businesses going that Congress has jeopardized with the CPSIA. Congress has tied her hands with the legislation they passed last summer, and then blamed her for the mess that has ensued. This author can no more make that Nord's fault than Congress can!

But I think the most telling and truthful portion of the article is at the end: "Tenenbaum would have...a golden opportunity, too, to create a sea change in the culture and effectiveness of a critical agency that has the potential to reach into every American's home through the products it regulates."

If that doesn't inspire us to keep on Congress to get CPSIA fixed, and sooner rather than later, I guess not much will!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How CPSIA Effects Small Businesses 7 - 11

I watched the next 5 videos of the Briefing:

Briefing #7: Mr. Thompson says to Nord: You have “a commonsense attitude with this, which is refreshing in this town.” However the problems I am hearing from small biz are the testing of components with no lead and labeling requirements.

Nord: “Permanent tracking labels required by law to go on all children’s products in August, “to extent practicable”. We want to be focusing on products that are dangerous and have history of recalls – not others—but can’t distinguish under law.

#8: Just an announcement that they were adjourning the meeting until 11:30, and thanking Nancy Nord for coming.

#9 Miss Shriver, Lucy’s Pockets (children’s clothing and other children’s products): “As CPSIA now stands, I as well as thousands of crafters, seamstresses, artists and others that market safe handmade items for kids will be put out of business….We are looking to you to make legislative changes that will allow us that have been making safe products to continue to do so.”

Miss Shriver went on to give several example of testing costs she has investigated: $900 - $1275 to test one $20 bib set; $300 to test a $5 bow; and $675 to test a $9 head band…And because items are one of a kind, cannot do batch testing.

If the testing requirements do not put businesses like her out of business, the labeling requirements will. “We use safe materials and make safe products…We are asking for Common Sense in the Law! We’re safe – we want to be legal.”

And Miss Shriver’s final comment is “CPSIA is going to absolutely kill the Handmade Industry and the ramifications are beyond definition.”

Video #10, Mr. Thompson introduces one of his constituents, Mrs. Susie Lang, of Starbright Baby Teething Giraffes. “As the mother of a 2-year-old, I admire Congress efforts to draft a law that protects children from excessive amounts of lead in toys.” Mrs. Lang went on to explain that the major problems with the law for her business include the unit testing requirements and the labeling requirements, and “the fallacy of assuming that everything is toxic until proven safe.” She went on to share what the testing costs would be for her, and exclaimed, “I don’t know how it can be done by any crafter or small business.”

Video #11 The Director of Once Upon a Child Stores, representing over 500 franchises, and over 5,000 employees – who are scrambling to figure out how to comply. “The ill executed implementation of this legislation has brought fear into the industry…The handbook is too general to determine what is safe to sell…only way to be sure would be to test each product…We need to know specifically what items are deemed unsafe for our children.”

How CPSIA Impacts Small Businesses 1 - 6

My goal today is to watch the entire series of videos from the "How CPSIA Impacts Small Businesses" briefing today in D.C. Our hope needs to be that those on the Committee participating were actually listening, and that this gets through to them.

I started earlier today by twittering about the videos, but decided I was getting long winded, so needed to move thoughts to blog. But will try to keep them short and sweet like twitter. These are actually the tweets I posted on the first 6 you tube videos. Then will post new thoughts on more of videos.

1st You Tube, Good beginning by Mr. Altmire “...well intended but...”

Under CPSIA "Small businesses are required to conduct costly testing and use pricey tracking labels" Utility of requirements well intended

"CPSC has admitted that cost of CPSIA requirements might be crippling to small businesses" Should be enough said there!

More #CPSIA losses: "Small saddled with countless items that they can't sell..." Need to protect our kids in way that works

Hard to hear 2nd video: 1st witness at #CPSIA Brief, Nord: Retroactive ban on lead+ has been BIG problem for retailers, resllers, and more!

Nord: Some of problems on horizon, August 14 when lower lead limits hit -- hurting especially books and bikes; & Permanent Tracking Labels.

Nord discussing some of what CPSC has done to educate folks about CPSIA, including website, guides, etc. They've been working handicapped.

3rd CPSIA video, can't read name of speaker..."Unintended Consequences" of this law...My ?: So why are they taking so long to fix it?!?

She discussing recalled toys from 2007, "prompted Congress to pass a CPSIA Act in 2008...most of lead in came from overseas..."

She's got it wrong or I have it wrong, she's talking about CPSIA affecting products for children under 12 -- I thought it was 12 and under?

"Costs of testing is going to be upwards of tens of thousands of $...Not good news for small biz..." Not good news? How about impossible?

4th CPSIA video: Chairman, asking Nord..."Your opinion, this impact on small biz, Is this an unintended consequence of law, or intent?" "No"

But my question is, does it matter whether Nord thinks this was intent of Congress? Congress made this mess - whether they intended or not

Chairman tells Nord that Congress believes law gives CPSC authority to exclude products that do clearly do not pose lead ingestion risks...

Nord, "I wish the law gave us flexibility...flexibility is needed...but law is written in very deliberate way to not give CPSC flexibility"

Chairman to Nord, "Is CPSIA placing small biz at a disadvantage to larger competitors? Is CPSC doing anything to level the playing field?"My question: How can Nord level the playing field for small biz in regards to CPSIA? CPSC has no ability to do risk assessment!

CPSIA brief videos #5 Nord explains CPSC doesn't have sufficient authority to exempt producers of textiles from testing.

Nord asked how stay of enforcement on testing requirements helped retailers/wholesalers. She explained not optimal answer, but all they had!

Nord explains that while authors of law claim CPSC has authority to rectify concerns of small biz under #CPSIA, NO examples are given for it

The more I watch of #CPSIA briefings, the more I believe Nord is on our side, and an unrecognized hero in fight against CPSIA craziness!

Video #6: Mr. Ellsworth points out it wasn't intended consequence of Congress to hamstring small & large biz w/ #CPSIA. So why delay to fix?

Mr. Ellsworth asks Nord to look at House Bill 1465 and see if it answers some of her #CPSIA concerns. But notes it still hasn't had hearing!

Nord asked what problems she's hearing from small biz: #1 = perverse effect of retroactive effect of #CPSIA on existing inventory. AGREE!

Nord points out another issue w/ #CPSIA: Gives no flexibility to CPSC to deal w/ real world situations and problems. Congress says it does.

Nord points out outlawed items that have never been linked to lead poisoning: "These things are preposterous!" And we would agree with her!

Resellers have no way of knowing whether their products contain lead or phthalates...items that don't necessarily pose a risk, but can't sell

Nord points out Resellers provide such a value to society, but retroactive part of law doesn't deal just w/manufacturing, deals with selling.

Friday, May 8, 2009

CPSC Handbook for Resallers

A big deal has been made about the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)'s new Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers. Apparently they came out with it recently, though I never got the email alert from the CPSC about it that I should have. I found out about it on Twitter!

I read the original handbook in February -- when they gave it to us just before the law into effect. This one isn't that different from the original one. It goes into a bit more detail about some of the "problematic" items that might come into a consignment shop or thrift store -- such as Cribs, Play Yards, Baby Walkers, Toy Chests...

But I don't sell any of those things. I sell books, and games, and other educational materials. So what new news did the CPSC have for me or others like me?

Well, before we get to that, the Introduction to the handbook should be of interest to all of us in the business of selling Children's Products: "The implementation of the CPSIA will have dramatic changes for the marketplace." Can we all say, "understatement"!?! (That sounds better than "Duh!") The problem is that all these changes are not making children safer -- which was the claimed purpose of the CPSIA in the first place.

And then they go on to give the lofty purpose of this new handbook, "to help you identify the types of products that are affected and to understand how to comply with the law, so you can keep unsafe products out of the hands of consumers." If they were really giving us any new information on CPSIA, 3 months after it's gone into effect, I would actually be unhappy. But not to fear. They have no real information for us here.

They merely state what we have been dealing with for the past 3 months: "Right now, resellers need to be able to determine what was manufactured in the past that may no longer be compliant." Exactly! While we applaud the 1 year delay in implementing the testing requirements for new items, CPSIA immediately put resellers in a bad spot. Products that were legal when they were made, legal when they were sold the first time, and legal when they were consigned before February 10, became problematic for resellers over night.

The authors of the handbook are trying to help, we'll give them credit for that. But for this reseller at least, they don't accomplish their lofty goal very well. On page 3 they tell us that resellers "cannot knowingly sell products that do not meet the requirements of the law." Implication would be that if we don't know it has lead, or phthalates, or a recall, when we sell it, we're okay. But wait, there's more. "Ignorance of the law is not an excuse." Doesn't that second statement override the first?

On page 4 they try to console us again, "If you should happen to sell or offer for sale a product in violation of the CPSIA or other law, CPSC's response will vary depending upon the circumstances...The Commission's response would also take into account the fact that you may be a small business. CPSC's goal is to help you to avoid future violations and protect your customers, not to put you out of business."

Why doesn't that comfort me? First, it's too subjective and too vague. The law says I can receive up to $100,000 fine and 5 years in jail -- for a first offense, and even as a small business. So what is the CPSC promising me? Only a $10,000 fine? Or a $50,000 fine? Or only 1 year in jail? Those may sound better to the CPSC, but any of those WOULD put us out of business, and seriously jeopardize our family.

And in case the CPSC has forgetten, because we certainly can't, the CPSC is only one of our concerns. Maybe they would only slap our hands for the first offense -- but what about the State Attorney Generals' Offices, who also have jurisdiction now? They are not bound to what the CPSC is promising. And what about civil suits? We can still be sued for violating this law, intentionally or not...No, I'm just not feeling comforted by their promising words.

And on page 6, they go back to the choices we have as Resellers under this new law, as we consider each and every used product that comes through our doors: We can test, we can not accept, we can use our best judgment about the product, or we can contact the manufacturer. (Oh, and be sure to check the recall list for each of them, while we're at it.)

I only have a couple of questions for the members of Congress and the CPSC that think these are reasonable requests: Have any of you ever been in a Thrift Store or a Consignment Store? Have any of you ever worked in one, or owned one? Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought.

First of all, let's start with the most ludicrous of the above choices: "Use your best judgment based on your knowledge of the product" I'm not even sure what to make of that statement! Will my best judgment stand up in court? I'm not a chemist...How can I possibly look at a product and be able to judge whether it has lead or phthalates? I've asked for a list of things that might be safe, and they can't provide it, so how could I possibly know? Are CDs safe? Are video tapes? Are the educational games or puzzles that just came in? I would have absolutely no way of knowing on any of those. If it's so easy, why don't they tell us?

And then there's the choice to contact the Manufacturers of these products...How much money do they think we make off each of these products, that they think we would have time to contact the Manufacturers for each and every problematic item?

And since we also can't afford testing anything that we deal with in our Consignment store, that only leaves one bad choice: Don't accept the product. So for the last 4 months, we have had to turn away countless books, toys, games, puzzles, manipulatives, and more. Not because they were unsafe, or even necessarily illegal. But we couldn't prove that they were lead free and phthalate free, so it was a risk to carry them. A risk that we couldn't afford to take. We lose, and our customers lose. And no one is better off.

With those choices, it's no wonder so many Consignment Shops that dealt primarily with Children's products have already closed their doors. Is that helping children? Or poor families? Or families on tight budgets? I don't think so...Was this one of the goals of this poorly written law, or just "an unintended consequence"?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Senate Amendment 374

This amendment would be a Godsend to the Resellers of Children's Products who are being severely hurt by the retroactive aspect of CPSIA.

Senator DeMint was one of the few in Congress to vote against the initial CPSIA bill, and was one of the first to offer an amendment to fix it: S. 374: "A bill to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide regulatory relief to small and family-owned businesses."

This amendment is designed to help Resellers, who are being hurt especially hard by the law right now. (Manufacturers' pain will increase as the August 2009 and February 2010 deadlines get closer.)

DeMint's amendment would allow secondhand sellers (consignment shops, thrift shops, etc.) to sell items that do not meet the new CPSIA standards. (Those items have already been sold at least once -- generally legally!)

It would also bump back the upcoming deadlines at least 6 months, giving manufacturers more time to figure out how to become CPSIA compliant, and require the CPSC to issue final rules, regulations and guidelines 30 days BEFORE the CPSIA can be enforced.

One of the biggest concerns with the CPSIA right now is the penalties that companies and individuals have to be concerned about, even with an inadvertent violation. DeMint's amendment would relieve much of that concern -- by waiving any civil penalty for a first, inadvertent violation.

Kudos to the Co-Sponsors, joining DeMint on this bill: Cosponsors [as of 2009-04-18]Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK], Sen. Michael Crapo [R-ID], Sen. Samuel Brownback [R-KS], Sen. Thomas Coburn [R-OK], Sen. Roger Wicker [R-MS], Sen. David Vitter [R-LA], and Sen. Saxby Chambliss [R-GA].

Now if we can just get it out of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and onto the Senate floor for discussion and a vote...

More Amendments to the CPSIA

Congress seems to be able to find time to spend trillions of dollars to "stimulate the economy" but they can't seem to find time to fix the mess they've made with CPSIA; fixing it just might be one of the best stimulus ideas they could come up with right about now.

It isn't for lack of trying on the part of those who are fighting the law: There are currently at least 9 amendments to CPSIA that have been sponsored. None of them are perfect, or fix all of the problems.(Since it would require repealing the law, and starting over, to accomplish that.)

I'm planning to keep an eye on what Congress is doing (or not doing)in regards to CPSIA. The Senate amendments include 374, 389, and 609. The House amendments include 968, 1027, 1046, 1465, 1692, and 1815.

More info on each of those to follow...

Friday, May 1, 2009

I briefly read the Congressional Research Service's Report on CPSIA Implementation a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't slowed down long enough to really read it and report on it. And then tonight, when I wanted to look at it again, I couldn't find it again...But Walter Olson's Overlawyerd website to the rescue. There was the link, waiting for me.

Overall, the report seems fairly neutral and accurate. The author, Bruce Mulock, gives a quick overview of the law, the history of the CPSC, and the highlights of what’s been going on since last fall in the CPSIA fight – with Congress, the CPSC, and affected Companies.

In the fourth paragraph of the Introduction he sums up the problem from our side: "Confusion is rampant among manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers about new lead limits for consumer products intended for children 12 and under. Turmoil is particularly acute among small businesses. Despite agency efforts to provide clarification, consignment shops, thrift stores, and various charitable organizations still fear incurring stiff fines for inadvertently violating the CPSIA, and retailers across the county are contemplating disposing of valuable inventory that may well pose no health risks." That about sums it up right there -- and should it really take any more than that to show the authors of this mess that they have work to do? Apparently Common Sense and Reasonableness are uncommon traits in D.C.

On page 7 of the Report he starts the section "CPSIA Implementation Plagued by Concerns and Confusion". Concerns and Confusion….Yes, CPSIA has certainly fostered no shortage of those. And then on page 8 he mentions the contradictory nature of some of what the CPSC did in January with regards to CPSIA, "On January 8, 2009, the agency issued a Guidance Intended for Resellers of Children’s Products, Thrift and Consignment Stores. This document emphasized that the Commission’s enforcement priorities focused on manufacturers, not on retail establishments which were selling or reselling consumer products…Nevertheless, the Guidance also went on to say: ‘However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.’”

So, while it was a nice gesture for the CPSC to say that its enforcement priorities were going to be the manufacturers, they went on to put those of us in the resell business in a very difficult position, making sure we understood that we could face civil and criminal penalties…And making it clear that we would not have to have knowledge of excessive lead content to be found guilty…A month before the law was going into effect, none of this was very comforting to most of us who would be affected by it!

And then on page 9 Mulock says, “Despite weeks of back and forth between Members of Congress and the CPSC, it is still far from clear whether the problem is with the CPSIA itself or with the manner in which the CPSC is administering it.” For those of us being harmed by the law, it really doesn’t matter! But this student of the matter says Congress made the mess, and Congress needs to stop blaming others and clean up their mess!
And in case this fact was lost on any of us, Mulock points out that the stays issued by the CPSC are all well and good, but: “The CPSC lost some of its ability to use discretion in its enforcement of the CPSIA, by virtue of the act’s having empowered state attorneys general to enforce the CPSIA. What that means with regard to the agency’s January 30, 2009 decision to stay certain testing and certification requirements is for now the chief example. The CPSC is powerless to command state attorney general to join in the stay. If a state attorney general decided to ignore the stay—and bring an action against a retailer for violating the CPSIA—the CPSC could not prevent such an outcome.” So again, the stay, like the clarification, is a nice idea, but what did it REALLY accomplish? The Attorney Generals are not bound by the stay.

Which brings us back to the position so many of us have been at for months: Good intentions do not make good laws. Children are not safer because of CPSIA. Congress must admit that they’ve blown it – and fix this law!!!

Burke and Washington Comment on Govt/CPSIA

Good #CPSIA quotes:
"People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous." -- Edmund Burke

If Congress doesn't hurry up and fix CPSIA, that's going to happen more and more -- intentionally by some and inadvertently by others. Considering the CPSC's reluctance to enforce this bad law, and to follow it, in some cases -- this is becoming a nightmare for those of us who believe in "the Rule of Law".

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." -- George Washington

Washington said it so well over 200 years ago. CPSIA is clearly an example of government's irresponsible action. There is no reason in it, and no eloquence. It is fire, and it is force.