H.R. 4040 : Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008

Concerned individuals may contact senators and representatives and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

H.R. 4040:Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008

To establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

View Votes (Missouri members: U.S. House of Representatives roll no. 1185)

Missouri
Yea MO-1 Clay, William [D]
Yea MO-2 Akin, W. [R]
Yea MO-3 Carnahan, Russ [D]
Yea MO-4 Skelton, Ike [D]
Yea MO-5 Cleaver, Emanuel [D]
Yea MO-6 Graves, Samuel [R]
Yea MO-7 Blunt, Roy [R]
Yea MO-8 Emerson, Jo Ann [R]
Yea MO-9 Hulshof, Kenny [R]

View Votes (Missouri Members: U.S. Senate roll no. 193)

Missouri
Yea MO Bond, Christopher [R]
Yea MO McCaskill, Claire [D

Concerned individuals may contact senators and representatives and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK
Is Feb. 10 financial doomsday for thousands?
New law could force companies into ruin
Posted: January 08, 2009
12:13 am Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Jacobsen Books in Clinton, Wis.

A new government regulation scheduled to take effect next month has thousands of retailers, thrift stores and small businesses worried they will be forced to permanently close their doors – and destroy their merchandise.

The law is expected to have such a devastating impact that Feb. 10 is now unofficially known as “National Bankruptcy Day.”

Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, or HR 4040, a retroactive rule mandating that all items sold for use by children under 12 must be tested by an independent party for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.

All untested items, regardless of lead content, are to be declared “banned hazardous products.” The CPSC has already determined the law applies to every children’s item on shelves, not just to items made beginning Feb. 10.

The regulations could force thousands of businesses – especially smaller ones that cannot afford the cost of lead testing – to throw away truckloads of children’s clothing, books, toys, furniture and other children’s items and even force them to close their doors.

Will Obama bring the end of prosperity? Get the book that shows how higher taxes will doom the economy – if we let it happen.

Children’s books

Valerie Jacobsen and her husband, Paul, support their family of 13 by selling literature at Jacobsen Books in Clinton, Wis. Her family has contracts with local libraries to buy and sell overstocked books – an arrangement that draws income for both parties.

However, Jacobsen told WND that lead testing is estimated to cost $100 to $400 for each of her used children’s books because she does not buy in bulk, and each batch of merchandise is required to be tested.

“There’s a big difference between me and Wal-Mart or Toys ‘R’ Us,” she said. “They’ll have a batch of 50,000. Everything I have is a batch of one because I don’t know its history. I’m looking at a testing cost of about $1.2 million. I would normally sell my full inventory of all children’s products for probably $15,000. So, it’s effectively a ban.”

Valerie Jacobsen

The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that lead testing requirements apply to children’s books, cassettes and CDs, printed game boards, posters and other printed goods used for children’s education. While it does claim some printing inks will be exempt, paper, cardboard, bindings, glues, laminates and other inks are still subject to regulation and require testing.

Jacobsen said that unless the new law is repealed or substantially modified, it could devastate her family business.

“I don’t want to stop selling children’s books on Feb. 9,” she said. “I need that income. We provide a lot of reading for a lot of little kids. I went into this business because I thought that books were good for children’s mental development. That opinion hasn’t changed. And the government’s ruling is essentially saying they’re hazardous for children’s mental development because they might contain lead. We just have no evidence that they do.”

Children’s second-hand clothing

Jacobsen said she often shops at second-hand stores for her 11 children because she can buy quality clothing at low prices.

“Over the years I have always tried to make the most of our money, so we’ll go to Goodwill,” she said. “To be honest, I’d rather go to Goodwill and get a brand-name item that’s hardly been worn and pay $3.99 for it than to go to Wal-Mart and pay $13.99 for something that in six weeks from now is not going to worth anything.”

But now some thrift and consignment stores are in a panic over the new regulation because it extends to children’s clothing, shoes and other items as well.

Cindy Retmier owns a consignment store called Jordan’s Closet in El Dorado Hills, Calif. She told KXTV News 10 that the law could close her business.

“[W]e’ve been passing kids clothing down for centuries,” she said. “Now all of sudden you can’t do it because there might be too much lead in one item out of a thousand? I mean it’s ridiculous they’ve taken it to the extent they’ve taken it right now.”

Goodwill

She estimates testing for each of her clothing articles to run between $300 and $1,500. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it may consider exempting clothing and toys made from natural materials such as wool or wood, but paint and dyes on the products are still required to be tested.

“We only sell stuff for an average of $10 so, of course that doesn’t make sense,” Ritmier said.

Even Goodwill Industries told the station it may be forced to stop selling clothing and other children’s items if testing is too expensive. The move could affect consumers who donate items for tax write-offs if the stores are not able to sell them.

“A huge hit for us and a huge hit for consumers that are trying to save a dollar in this economy,” Goodwill’s Mark Klingler told KXTV. “We’ll have to analyze it. It may involve not selling if we can’t realistically test everything.”

Likewise, Shauna Sloan, founder of the Salt Lake City-based Kid to Kid Franchise, which sells used children’s clothing in 75 stores across the country, told the Los Angeles Times his business could end.

“We will have to lock our doors and file for bankruptcy,” he said.

Small toy businesses

All children’s toys and furniture also fall under strict requirements for independent lead and phthalate testing. Some small toy businesses say lead testing alone costs more than $4,000 per item – a price some say only large companies like Mattel and Fisher Price can afford to pay.

“The only people who can do that now are the ones who actually put this scare into effect and actually caused the problem,” Amy Evan’s, owner of Baby’s Boutique in Chico, Calif., told CBS’ KHSL.

Shelsie Hall told KXTV she makes hair bows and jewelry for children and sells them online to support her family.

Now her small business is threatened by the measure because those products must be tested.

“[M]y items sell for $4 to $10 and I make a lot of different things. So I couldn’t just test one; I would have to test every item,” she said.

One blogger who identifies herself as “Tina” has a home-based business making and selling cloth diapers online. She said a U.S. lab quoted a price of $75 to test each component of her diapers.

“I have at least two different fabrics, thread, snaps and elastic in a diaper,” she wrote. “$375 to test each different combination of fabrics/snaps/thread/size combinations? That is insane.”

She continued, “I am but one of many micro-manufacturers who will be forced to give up the American dream of owning my own business because of this legislation.”

Tina said retailers purchase inventory with loans secured by the value of that inventory.

“What happens to these lenders
and retailers when the value of that inventory goes to zero?” she asked. “It is conceivable, at least to me, that retailers will be the next group in front of Congress asking for a bailout.”

The act’s broad wording could extend to children’s items sold on eBay, Craig’s List, Amazon. Critics also say landfills will be hit hard if stores, distributors and families simply throw their untested items away rather than face prosecution. And new clothing, toys, furniture and books at large retailers could become more expensive to cover third-party testing costs.

Tentative exemptions

While the Consumer Product Safety Commission administers the law, it may only be changed by Congress. Some exemptions approved Tuesday by the commission’s two members, but not formally adopted, include the following:

* Items with lead parts that a child cannot access;
* Clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as cotton and wood; and
* Electronics that are impossible to make without lead.

But the tentative exemptions do little to reassure most businesses and families who will be affected by the law. Final rules are not scheduled for approval until after Feb. 10, when the rules take effect.

Taking action

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Il., sponsored the measure along with 106 co-sponsors. In the House of Representatives, 424 members voted for the act, nine voted “present” and a single member voted against it – Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

In the Senate, the totals were 89 for, eight “present” and three against – Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

President George Bush signed it into law on Aug. 14, 2008.

The measure raises the CPSC budget each year until 2015, at which time the agency’s budget would be $156 million. It also allows state attorneys general to take civil action against those who violate the strict regulations.

While some may continue to sell their children’s products and disobey the law, Jacobsen told WND she’s not taking any chances at her bookstore.

“Would I ever get caught? Probably not,” she said. “But they are talking about $100,000 fines and jail terms of up to five years. I’m not comfortable operating with that law on the books.”

Instead, she said she will fight the measure and raise public awareness.

“I’m planning to put a chain across our children’s department and put up a sign that says, “Banned hazardous material,'” she said. “I’ll ask my customers as they come in to please write their congressmen, call senators and get the word out there. I will tell them, ‘I can let you in now,’ but four weeks from now, I won’t be able to do that.”

Jacobsen’s plans don’t stop there.

“I am going to go to my legislator’s office, and I’m going to take my children’s books there,” she said. “I’m going to ask him, ‘Do you want me to put these in the landfill? Do you want me to burn these?’ What am I going to do with them? I can’t just warehouse them until they come to their senses.”

U.S. Capitol

She suggested the public begin writing and calling lawmakers and demanding exemptions to the law.

“I think the whole thing should be trashed, personally,” she said. “It was so short-sighted. People who were doing the importing of lead are going to be rewarded when little companies like mine go under. When you take everything on a retailer’s shelf and tell them they cannot sell it, that’s bankruptcy.”
********************************************************************************

Pelosi’s Toy Story – WSJ

In the tale of “The Velveteen Rabbit,” a child’s stuffed toy can only become “real” once all its fur has been loved off, and it’s missing a button or two. If only. Under a new law set to go into effect February 10, unsold toys, along with bikes, books and even children’s clothing are destined for the scrap heap due to an overzealous law to increase toy safety.

The damage comes from new rules governing lead in children’s products. After last year’s scare over contaminated toys made in China, Congress leapt in to require all products aimed at children under 12 years old to be certified as safe and virtually lead-free by independent testing. The burden may be manageable for big manufacturers and retailers that can absorb the costs of discarded inventory and afford to hire more lawyers. Less likely to survive are hundreds of small businesses and craftspeople getting hit with new costs in a down economy.

Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren’t certified as safe. When Congress passed the legislation in August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boasted that “With this legislation, we will not only be recalling, we will be removing those products from the shelves.” Yeehaw. While large retailers may ask manufacturers to take back uncertified products, independent stores may be stuck with inventory that is suddenly illegal to sell. One Web site, NationalBankruptcyDay.com, is cataloging the costs faced by small businesses.

Small batch toymakers, many of whom make old-fashioned wood and sustainable products, say the testing requirements — which can cost thousands of dollars — are unaffordable. At Etsy.com, a Web site where entrepreneurs can sell their handmade items, many expect the new law to put them out of business. Also ensnared are companies that make products like bikes or childrens books. Because they aren’t toy companies, many were caught by surprise when it became clear the law would apply to them. The only lead that can be found on childrens bikes is on the tire, where it poses no risk to a child not in the daily habit of licking the wheels. And while childrens books may contain no more noxious materials than paper and ink, under the new rules they would still need a test to prove it.

Responding to the uproar, CPSC has issued a rule-making notice that would exempt natural materials from having to be certified as lead-free — but it will need to go further to avoid an economic trainwreck in February. The real responsibility lies with Congress, which rushed through “kid-friendly” crowd-pleaser legislation without considering the consequences. Despite warnings from small businesses, Illinois Representative Bobby Rush and California’s Henry Waxman pushed provisions that now require pulling products from the shelf. Mr. Waxman demanded lead standards without allowing compliance to phase in.

Now even their allies are skittering away from strict enforcement, fearing the looming fiasco could force Congress to amend the bill. Last week, consumer groups that once flogged the law, including Public Citizen, Kids in Danger, and the Naderite U.S. Public Interest Research Group, wrote a letter urging the CPSC to “take the initiative . . . by providing prompt, common-sense, and explicit interpretations regarding exemptions to CPSIA.” Now they tell us.

Congress has beaten down the CPSC for allegedly not doing enough about toy safety, but last year’s toy law was an election-year overreaction by Congress. The Commission needs to implement the rules without putting more companies out of business in an already tenuous economy.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.

********************************************************************************

More news on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
05:52 PM PT, Jan 7 2009

Goodwill Many consumers and small businesses are up in arms about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The law was passed last year to try to stem the tide of toy recalls. But in requiring that anyone selling children’s products ensure that the products have been tested for lead content, lawmakers may be putting thrift stores and clothing makers out of business, retailers say.

There are signs of a reprieve, though. On Tuesday, the two-member Consumer Product Safety Commission, which interprets and enforces the law, gave preliminary approval to four exemptions to the law. They involve products made from natural materials, electronics and products that have lead that is inaccessible to children. But no final changes will be made before Feb. 10, and that’s the date after which all products not tested for lead content will be considered hazardous.

Now Congress is getting involved again. Gus Bilirakis, a Republican congressman from Florida, sent a letter today to the chairwoman of the CPSC expressing his concern that the law will have a negative effect on thrift and consignment stores.

“I have heard from retailers in my district who are greatly concerned that they will be forced to stop providing such products on Feb.10, 2009, because they lack clear and consistent guidance on how to meet the new law’s mandates,” the letter says. “These constituents have indicated that they may be forced out of business because of their inability to comply with the law’s third-party testing requirements.”

Whether his letter will prompt a change in the law is unknown, as the CPSC can only interpret the law, not change it. It is up to Congress to make any major changes to the law.

Meanwhile, we’ve been deluged with questions about whether people can still sell children’s clothing on eBay, who enforces the law and what retailers can do about it. Look out for a Q&A on these matters and more in an upcoming edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Alana Semuels, LA Times

Concerned individuals may contact senators and representatives and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Advertisements

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://guymidkiff.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/hr-4040consumer-product-safety-improvement-act-of-2008/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This is great information. Who or what group of businesses are affected by this bill i.e, small retailers of books and toys, clothing jewelry. What about librairies? Thrift Stores, etc. Just wanted some clarification.
    Also, what happened to make this law come about? Besides the toy recall, did something adversely occur for this now to become law?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: