CPSIA Update: Commissioner Nord Says ‘Fix’ Falls Short

By March 16, 2010Regulations

Commissioner Nancy Nord of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) writes at her blog, Conversations with Consumers about draft legislation to fix the excesses of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. From the post, “Does the Fix Need a Fix?”:

On February 5, I wrote here that the Congress was considering making changes to the CPSIA. That’s moved to the next step: the five CPSC Commissioners have now been asked to comment on draft legislation to address the unintended consequences of the CPSIA.  Because it has not yet been introduced, it is not officially available but you can read the draft bill analyzed in several blogs including Learning Resources and Shopfloor.

For almost two years we have been talking about the problems with this well-intended but flawed legislation.  I am so pleased that Congress is now willing to begin the process of fixing some of the problems with this law.  While some proposed language is helpful,  my reading overall is the fixes do not meet the mark with respect to focusing on the real safety risk.

For more on the draft legislation being circulated by Chairman Waxman’s staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, see our post Monday, “CPSIA Update: House Energy and Commerce Offers Fix.”

Nord raised the many problems with the CPSIA in her prepared testimony at the CPSC’s budget hearing March 4 before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. In offering a solid list of recommendations to improve the law, Nord reported:

Small businesses have been especially hurt by the sweep of this law. The agency has not done a full economic impact on the effects of CPSIA on small businesses; however anecdotal information puts the impact in the billions of dollars range. We know that many small businesses have been put out of business or have left the children’s products market.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum was the chief witness at the appropriations hearing, and in her statement restricted her comments on the CPSIA to the costs of implementing the law. Some might argue that an appropriations hearing is not the correct venue to raise policy disputes, but then, Congress has been awfully reluctant to address the manifest excesses and economic harm of the law. Best engage the issue when you can. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act became law on Aug. 14, 2008.

We see that Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Rep. Heath Schuler (D-NC) this month introduced H.R.4767 to exempt ordinary books and paper-based printed material from the CPSIA’s lead limit.

That’s a laudable goal, but the problems are too many and too severe for piecemeal solutions. Best that Congress fix the problems through a solid, far-reaching piece of legislation, which we can call the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act Improvement Act. Or, if clarity helps, the Fixing the Mistakes We Made in 2008 in Passing the CPSIA Act.

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