CPSIA Update: Senator DeMint Introduces Legislative Fix

By February 5, 2009Regulations

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on Wednesday introduced S. 374, a bill to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide regulatory relief to small and family-owned businesses. The text is not yet available. From his news release, “DeMint Introduces Consumer Products Safety Reform Bill,” listing its six major provisions:

1. Delays the overreaching regulations six months so that all parties can work together to address the needs of our small businesses and the needs of product safety.

2. Allows small manufacturers to use the testing and certification that their component suppliers have done to certify that the components do not contain an impermissible amount of lead. This will save small manufacturers from having to subject their products — many of which are made in small runs — to duplicative and expensive multi-thousand dollar tests.

3. Exempts thrift stores, yard sales, consignments shops and other re-sellers from the prohibitions in the act. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and your local flea market were never the source of the product safety concerns encountered last year, and they won’t be in the future. They are good actors trying to provide Americans of modest means with value oriented products. They shouldn’t be subjected to tens of thousands of dollars in potential liability.

4. Prevents retro-active enforcement of the act. There are millions of dollars of safe products in the warehouses and stores around the country today, which could become un-sellable under CPSIA. This will prevent thousands of products from being destroyed and the livelihood of thousands of businesses from being threatened.

5. Provides a Good-Faith Exemption. The act and its associated regulations are extremely complex. Small manufacturers are having difficulty understanding what the act requires of them. While many small businesses are doing their best to comply with the act it’s possible someone could accidentally run afoul of the act. If they can show that their error was made in good-faith, my bill will provide them with a one-time exemption from sanction.

6. Requires the CPSC to provide small businesses with a compliance guide. This is an extremely technical regulation that impacts a number of small businesses who don’t have large compliance departments to decipher the regulations for them. Senator DeMint’s bill would require the CPSC, in consultation with the state and federal small business agencies, to develop a compliance guide that addresses the concerns of the small business community.

    Walter Olson, naturally, provides another news roundup at Overlawyered.com, “CPSIA chronicles, February 5.” One item we highlight:

    A news account in the WSJ attributes last Friday’s stay to “pressure from manufacturers”, with no mention of grass-roots movement at all. Lame. Meanwhile, CNNMoney quotes safetyists and trade associations, but not small producers, leaving readers clueless about costs. USA Today does a better job at presenting all sides.

    Agreed on all points. We think the NAM CPSC Coalition has been an effective voice bringing substantial expertise to bear, but you just can’t beat the impact of a grassroots revolt like the one growing from the small producers, retailers and consumers. Sincere thanks to all of you.

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