CPSIA Update: National Bankruptcy Day Approaches

An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Toys for Congress — New lead rules hit next Tuesday. Whammo“:

The runaway train that is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is heading toward a collision next Tuesday. That’s when new federal rules will make it illegal to sell some children’s products, if Congress doesn’t amend its awful handiwork.

This week hundreds of people from the children’s garment and publishing industries rallied in New York to protest the law and call for a “new Miracle on 34th Street” to save them from what some are calling National Bankruptcy Day.

The uproar is over a law requiring that all products primarily intended for children under 12 must certify they have not exceeded new limits for lead content. The rules apply retroactively, meaning that many stores, including thrift stores, may have to empty their shelves. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has voted to delay the requirements for one year but this will have little practical impact: The lead standards still apply and retailers don’t want to carry uncertified products lest they become targets of plaintiffs attorneys and state attorneys general.

Oh, right. Attorneys general. In its one-year stay of enforcement, the CPSC commented, “The Commission trusts that State Attorneys General will respect the Commission’s judgment that it is necessary to stay certain testing and certification requirements and will focus their own enforcement efforts on other provisions of the law, e.g. the sale of recalled products.”

Yes, trust. And the chairman this year of the National Association of Attorneys General is Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island, the AG who kept alive the state’s public nuisance lawsuit against paint manufacturers, the epitome of politician-trial lawyer connivance. The Rhode Island Supreme Court tossed out the suit, and Lynch left the taxpayers the bill.

The point being that manufacturers, retailers and small-business owners all have a legitimate fear of litigation.

The Journal concludes:

This is the same Congress about to spend uncountable billions on a bill that may stimulate little or nothing. The least the Members can do is take a moment to adjust the lead law to prevent avoidable and real damage to thousands of businesses.

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