CPSIA Update: House Hearing to Examine CPSC, Including Erratabase

By February 16, 2011Briefly Legal, Regulations

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade has an excellent line-up of witnesses scheduled for its hearing Thursday on the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

The first panel includes two CPSC commissioners, Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Anne Northup. The second panel:

  • Ms. Jolie Fay, founder of Skipping Hippos and secretary for the Handmade Toy Alliance.
  • Mr. Wayne Morris, vice president for division services, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
  • Mr. Rick Woldenberg, chairman of Learning Resources, Inc., an educational games and resources company
  • Ms. Nancy A. Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger

The Handmade Toys Alliance has emerged as the most effective grassroots organization in explaining how the CPSIA has done so much damage to small business operators who make hand-crafted products at home or in small shops. Many have been driven out of business by the CPSIA’s regulatory inflexibility and costs.

Wayne Morris represents manufacturers and will offer views of the threat posed by the new product safety database, which the CPSC has designed in such a way to invite inaccurate or even false complaints that could do damage to a company’s reputation with no effective recourse. Most troubling is the CPSC’s decision to expand the definition of those who can make complaints via the database, potentially allowing trial lawyers or activists to submit inflammatory comments for pecuniary or political reasons.

Rick Woldenberg is the tireless advocate for regulations that recognize the real world of business — the real world, period. His advocacy at the blog, CPSIA – Comments & Observations, has really moved the debate.

Strangely, on the eve of the hearing, Chairman Tenenbaum has chosen to publish a blog post about the complaint database cosigned by U.S. PIRG’s public health advocate, Liz Hitchcock. The post urges U.S. PIRG members to use the public safety database, but Congress never approved making such “consumer activist” groups acceptable reporters under the CPSIA. The definition of who qualifies to lodge a complaint was expanded far beyond the statute by a majority vote of the CPSC, led by Chairman Tenenbaum, and it’s that expansion that debases the database. Tenenbaum’s co-blogging at the site of a leading left-leaning activist group immediately before the hearing almost looks like a conscious poke in the eye to committee members.

UPDATE (9:20 a.m. Thursday): Rick Woldenberg covers the news leading up to today’s committee hearing.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • […] before a cmte hearing.” Carter makes an interesting point. I am not hurt, by the way . . . . He also notes: “Tenenbaum’s co-blogging at the site of a leading left-leaning activist group immediately […]

  • Wacky Hermit says:

    I dispute your contention that Congress never foresaw that “consumer activist” groups would be able to game the database. The Congressmembers who wrote CPSIA are convinced that these groups ARE “the little guy”. They’re really that deluded and isolated from reality. A group they find sympathetic says it represents consumers, so they take the group at its word.

    It’s a shame, really, that we let people that deluded run around loose on the streets of Washington D.C. The main difference between a Congressman and the homeless guy who thinks we should turn all the pennies into copper wire to bring free electricity to all, is that the Congressman has a house.

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