CPSIA Update: A Hearing Scheduled, With One Witness

By September 4, 2009Regulations

From Rick Woldenberg’s “CPSIA – Comments & Observations” blog, “CPSIA – Time to Write Mr. Waxman et. al.“:

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection has scheduled a hearing on Thursday, September 10 at 10:00 AM. The hearing is entitled “Consumer Product Safety Commission Oversight: Current Issues and a Vision for the Future.” The Subcommittee inexplicably is planning to call exactly ONE witness, CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum, to discuss the CPSIA.

I disagree with the Subcommittee on this decision. The business community (particularly Small Business) raised many legitimate and serious objections to this law and its implementation. To exclude the business community from this hearing is to distort the truth and to keep inconvenient views off the record. It’s wrong.

Agreed. On the other hand, it does provide an opportunity for Chairman Tenenbaum to demonstrate leadership by calling for specific changes in the law. We suggest she use the March 20 letter from the CPSC senior staff — transmitted by then-Chairman Nord to Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) — as the basis for recommending reform legislation.

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): The Handmade Toy Alliance has sent a letter to committee members asking to be heard.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Michael says:

    While I am elated to finally hear that a hearing is being held to discuss CPSIA, I am speechless with anger that not one single small business that has struggled with this disconnected attempt at further protecting our children has been called forward to testify. The small company that I preside over (66 employees) has served the educational manipulatives marketplace for decades with an exemplary safety record. With this legislation, our ability to continue in business is in jeopardy, not because our products are unsafe but because low volume, low value products cannot support the unnecessary testing and reporting requirements that CPSIA requires. While I appreciate that Congressional and Commission members may come from all walks of life to serve, not one person at this hearing will have sufficient experience with the unnecessary burdens CPSIA places on SMALL business to provide any level of meaningful exploration and dialog during this hearing.

    There are so many problems created by this law that one hardly knows where to begin. Perhaps the overly broad definition of “children’s products”, a definition which ensnares many products incapable of harming children from lead or phthalates would be a place to start. Maybe they could dwell on the neutering of the CPSC’s ability to apply risk assessment methodologies to ferret out those products that could actually cause harm from those that cannot conceivably cause harm. Or maybe they should consider the so called exemption process under the law, a process that between excessive requirements, limited scope and astronomical expense on a per product basis is completely beyond the reach of any entity not in a trade group representing homogenous products.

    Continuing, perhaps they could begin with the punitive and retroactive application of requirements on existing inventory, or the fact that there still is no reliable method to screen products for lead in paint – not even with an XRF scanner or the fact that there are no accredited third party labs available to test for phthalates – a fact that forces the same product from the same inventory to be tested twice, once for lead and lead in paint and again before February 2010 for phthalates. Or maybe the punitive penalties and the fear that those penalties generate for any final distributor should be discussed. Would anyone carry a product that generates less than $100,000 a year in profit (the current fine) if there was any chance whatsoever that one of 51 state or federal entities could prosecute you should that product somehow exceed limits on lead and phthalates regardless of the rigorous testing that says it doesn’t? Would anyone risk going to prison for 5 years for something they sell $500 a year of? That reality alone will lead to the disappearance of thousands of products from the marketplace. Many of these products help the disadvantaged to participate in society, they allow the crafter to stay out of poverty, and the profits they generate feed, cloth and educate the children of the people who create the products. Real harm is being done to those children right now because of CPSIA.

    This law was written with only mass produced and mass marketed products in mind – everyone lives and understands the big box, retail world. The testing requirements, the reporting requirements and the penalties all speak to individual products that sell in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The group meeting in this hearing has already heard from that group when the law was written. The fact that ‘firewalled’ labs were provided for and that one rather large company now has six of them is direct proof that large business has had a say. When will small businesses have a chance to air its issues and concerns? When will Congress and the Administration ACT to correct the issues created by CPSIA, issues that are actually harming children right now? I implore Waxman to open the legislative process up as soon as possible to the small business community. Its members deserve representation too, the users of its products deserve to have those products continue to be available in the marketplace and its employees and their children deserve to be kept safe from hunger, cold, and ignorance – the hallmarks of the poverty that CPSIA is having on real people, right now.

  • Michael Shaw says:


    Nothing “inexplicable” here. They just don’t want to hear from real people–much like the censored Town Hall meetings.

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