Friday, February 18, 2011

Laying the groundwork for reform...

Yesterday, I had the honor of representing the CPSC as a witness before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The hearing, entitled “Review of CPSIA and CPSC Resources,” afforded me the opportunity to testify about the unintended consequences of the CPSIA. We can all agree that the original intent of the CPSIA was an admirable one, however, given the massive impact of the law’s testing and certification requirements and the overreach of the Commission’s database regulation, it is now in the hands of Congress to prevent further disastrous, economic consequences. This hearing provided Congress with the opportunity to discuss these key issues.

In my prepared testimony, I argued for two actions that Congress could take immediately to ameliorate the consequences of the CPSIA and two long-term reforms to ensure that harmless products are not caught up in the law’s purview. Immediate recommendations include:

- Prohibiting the launch of the new 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.

- Prohibiting the Commission from undertaking any further regulatory action without first performing a full cost-benefit analysis and making a finding that the cost of the action is justified by its expected benefits. (This would impact accrediting labs to test to the phthalate or toy standards, the 15-month rule, etc.)

Two long-term proposals for reform include

- Amending the law’s absorbability exclusion § 101(b)(1) so that it has meaning. Such a change would result in excluding products or materials with a level of absorbable lead that the Commission determines not to be harmful to a child’s health.

- Eliminating third-party testing, certification and tracking labels of all children’s products, allowing the Commission to retain its authority to impose such requirements only where necessary to address a risk.

These changes will provide much needed relief to small businesses throughout our country. Further, I believe that by doing this, we can ensure that the CPSC will continue to use the tax dollars afforded to us by hard working Americans in a meaningful way, rather than on enforcing standards and paperwork requirements entirely unrelated to risk.

In the hearing's second panel, Members of Congress were able to receive testimony from several of the small businesses that I hear from on a regular basis. These individuals provided firsthand accounts about the effects that our rulemaking is having on their futures.

I am hopeful that moving forward, Congress will take my testimony and the testimony of the witnesses into account in crafting a reform bill.

Click here to view yesterday’s webcast:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Staying Power

Last night, the Commission voted 4-1 to extend the stay of enforcement on testing and certification to the lead content standard until December 31, 2011. I am pleased that the Commissioners were willing to compromise on this extension.

While I welcome this decision, I continue to believe that the stay of enforcement should remain in place until one year after the finalization of the Commission’s rulemaking on both Testing and Labeling Pertaining to Product Certification and Conditions and Requirements for Testing Component Parts of Consumer Products. After all, the Commission has broadcast to the regulated community since 2009 its commitment to allow component parts testing and certification to become a viable compliance alternative for manufacturers before third party testing and certification for lead content in most children’s products becomes mandatory.

Over the past several weeks, large and small businesses throughout the country who would have been affected by this decision, have been in contact with my office urging a stay of this testing requirement, particularly since the Commission’s testing regulations have not been finalized. In the absence of those final rules, component suppliers are refusing to test altogether or are refusing to supply certifications. In addition, certifications are unavailable from the retail outlets where many small manufacturers obtain component parts.

I believe that third party testing imposes a financial burden that many manufacturers, and particularly small ones, may never be able to bear. But if there is any hope for their survival, it is essential that the stay not be lifted before there is at least an opportunity for certified component parts to form the basis for the final product certifications of small manufacturers.

If you are interested in learning more about the effects of this decision, please read my official statement for more information.

Please know how much I appreciate all the feedback and information that has been provided to my office over the past few weeks on this topic. This decision was an important victory for businesses both large and small throughout the country. I recognize that this could not have been achieved without your input. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at