Friday, April 8, 2011

Hearing Recap

Earlier this week, I mentioned that the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade would be holding a hearing on a draft version of fixes to the current CPSIA. I appreciated listening to the testimony of all the witnesses and feel confident that the Committee can work in a bipartisan manner to continue this discussion moving forward.

To illustrate some of the important changes this bill would make, I want to draw your attention to a recent article from Bloomberg news entitled “Toymakers Would Get Regulatory Relief Under Republican Plan.” This article helps outline many of the current problems with CPSIA as well as the important fixes that this legislation will address.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Drafting A Change

As some of you may know, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee recently released a draft version of a bill designed to fix many of the unintended consequences of the CPSIA. This important piece of legislation will be the focal point of tomorrow’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade hearing.

From my perspective, this legislation will go a long way to reduce some of the unnecessary and over burdensome mandates of the CPSIA. For instance, the bill establishes limits for children’s products that are too large to be swallowed, alternative lead limits for metals and a de minimis exception for other materials. It also limits third party testing to specific categories of products with known risks. These changes would free the Commission to focus its efforts on hazardous products, rather than on the enforcement of non-risk based standards and procedural compliance.

Further, I want to note a key provision regarding the Public Database. The bill narrows the definitions of “consumer” and “public safety entity” to persons who either used a product or are closely associated with someone who did. In addition, the bill requires that the name and contact information of the affected individual be included in the report. I believe these simple changes would address many of my concerns regarding the veracity and verifiability of information submitted to the public database.

Finally, I want to commend Chairwoman Mary Bono Mack and members of her staff for their hard work on drafting this piece of legislation. While I know bills can change significantly during the legislative process, this draft reflects the Committee’s commitment to correct the problems with the CPSIA about which there is strong bipartisan agreement. I look forward to sharing my impressions of tomorrow’s hearing and welcome your comments about this legislation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Funding Debate

Last week, I had the honor of representing the CPSC as a witness before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. The hearing, which focused on the CPSC'S 2012 Performance Budget Request, afforded me the opportunity to testify about ways in which I believe we can reduce our budget while actually improving our ability to fulfill our core safety mission.

In my prepared testimony, I illustrated several points where I believe the CPSC is inefficiently using its resources, focusing on the requirements of the CPSIA. For example, I discussed the Commission Majority’s decision to broaden the scope of what falls under the definition of “children’s product.” That decision unnecessarily increased the number of products that must undergo third-party lab testing for compliance with the statutory lead content limits applicable to children’s products. Moreover, the majority failed to meaningfully define “absorption” for purposes of excepting from the third-party testing requirements products that contain no risk. As a result, the rule makes no distinction between products containing lead that is likely to be consumed and products where the lead content cannot cause harm. These regulatory decisions by the Majority have actually increased the economic damage caused by the CPSIA, in areas where the Commission had the discretion to limit that damage.

In addition to my prepared testimony I was able to highlight two points that I believe would be instrumental in reducing both the size of the Commission’s budget and its regulatory burden, especially on small businesses:

First, I urged the Committee to prohibit funding for the new public database until the Commission’s regulations ensure that the information contained in a report of harm is verifiable, and the Commission has established an effective procedure for resolving a claim of material inaccuracy before a report of harm is put on the Database.

Second, I urged the Committee to prohibit funding for the Commission to implement any new third-party testing and certification requirements of the CPSIA. Of course, the Commission would still have its authority to impose such requirements where necessary to address a risk. This will ensure that our focus is on ensuring safety rather than on enforcing standards and paperwork requirements entirely unrelated to risk.

Finally, I was pleased with the discussion by Chairwoman Jo Ann Emerson of the need for a cost-benefit analysis of regulations promulgated under the CPSIA. I believe such an analysis would reveal that much of our CPSIA mandated regulation cannot be justified. This will not only help to save businesses throughout the county that are struggling, but it will also ensure that we are using the resources provided to us by the taxpayer in a logical and substantive manner.

Click here to view last week's broadcast.