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CPSIA – Final CPSIA Amendment (HR 2715) Moves to President’s Desk for Signature

Here is the final form of the CPSIA Amendment  (HR 2715)  that should become law sometime this week. I want to quote from another blog (thank you, Steven Hansen ) on this amendment’s path to the President’s desk: ” This bill and the path it has taken is an example of why people are very frustrated with Congress and getting legislation passed in general. These ‘legislative’ fixes have been getting passed around in backrooms for months and when they finally did come to a ‘vote’ the ‘fix’ was already in and they sailed thru in minutes or seconds on votes that were purely formalities. There was really no warning that this would be passed when it did or in this fashion. If you did not get what you wanted in here well that’s too bad because you are not likely to see any further relief for some time. Apparently Congress is going to be in recess until after Labor day as they had to work so hard to pass the debt ceiling bill. ” Mr. Hansen is completely correct.  We know that even Republican members found out about this amendment when it was docketed for a House floor vote.  Mark-up, schmark-up.  The Senate also made the decision (if that is even possible, since the Senate is an inanimate organization without a mind) to shift to HR 2715 without debate, and passed it with a voice vote.  These decisions were literally made in minutes behind closed doors and Members of Congress had no time to read (and perhaps no interest to read) the “noncontroversial” bill.  After three years of intense bickering, a small group of individuals made the decision for all of us that this bill is good enough to “fix” the CPSIA.  There won’t be another “fix” to this law again, perhaps EVER.  You know the bill sucks if Henry Waxman is clucking about it .  In fact, most of the text of the bill was his handiwork almost entirely (functional purpose, testing “relief” (Eshoo), database (Markey), small batch “relief”). And what did we get for all our good government dollars?  I have previously given my quick assessment of this law and have no interest in repeating the exercise at this point.  I would like, however, to highlight low lights of the bill: Winners :   ATVs, Bicycles, Resale Goods, Books, Libraries Losers :  See above list, and if you’re not on it . . . you. Technical Fixes of Past Congressional Screw-ups :  100 ppm lead standard is prospective now.  And WHY wasn’t Congress able to do this for 300 ppm or 600 ppm?  Good question.  The five CPSC Commissioners called for this particular change back in January 2010.  What’s the hurry now??? Changes to testing requirement to “representative” rather than “random” samples.  And we just hired our third statistician, too! Restricts the phthalates ban to accessible plasticized components.  i guess Congress isn’t worried about kids with serpent tongues any longer. Makes FUTURE crib standards prospective.  And who said the $32 million in recently discarded good fixed-sided crib inventory died in vain?! Shame, Shame, Shame : Small batch manufacturers, the most micro of businesses (under $1 million in total turnover) must register prior to utilizing any of the nifty cost-saving testing innovations now being cooked up by the very open-minded CPSC.  This is the CPSC’s version of the sex offender registry.  Is there ANY basis for singling these people out for special attention?  Why doesn’t Mattel have to register, too?  Oh, come on, you know we must have different rules for Mattel!  They need their own firewalled labs and so on for their efficiency.  [Here's a good example of their efficiency.]  It’s only fair, the real safety worry is the crafters . . . . The only good news is that none of the small batch manufacturers will ever have to suffer this indignity. The clever gnomes of Congress have figured out how to appear to give something to those heart-rending  little nobodies without doing squat.  How do they do that?  The only “relief” that the CPSC may implement must meet this standard:  “Any such alternative requirements shall provide for reasonable methods to assure compliance  with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation.” [Emphasis added]  This CPSIA term has already been interpreted by this Commission multiple times.  The word “assure” ensures that no relief will ever be given since nothing can “assure” compliance other than prophylaxis.  Notably, the Commission has purportedly looked for this “out” for three years and came up with nada .  And Bob Adler has been “agonizing” over it for that entire time.  [I feel AWFUL for him, he suffers for each of us.] How will another year or two of agonizing produce a different result? Suckers are welcome to wait longingly for this promised “relief” but they will be disappointed again and again.  Protest is futile. Disgusting, Repellent Hypocrisy : Consider the amazing gimme provided to bicycle manufacturers: ” (B) METAL COMPONENT PARTS OF BICYCLES.—The third party testing requirements established under subsection (a) shall not apply to metal component parts of bicycles with respect to compliance with the lead content limits in place pursuant to section 101(b)(6) of the [CPSIA]. ” They don’t have to test their metal components at all.  AT ALL, EVER.  Bicycle manufacturers are different than you and me. Let me be clear – I think testing metal components on bikes is a stupid and pointless waste of time and money.  The bike industry testified in the CPSC 100 ppm hearing that when they tested a single part in ten places, they got ten different results.  Whoa!  They proved they had an unsolvable problem and apparently Congress listened.  How heartwarming! I gave similar testimony and submitted similar data about our products at the same hearing in the same panel sitting at the same table.  Congress must have gone deaf by that time.  Oddly, the CPSC staff included this data and my testimony in their 100 ppm report.  So perhaps Congress isn’t just deaf, they may be blind, too.  Or perhaps they just don’t bother with the details. Inquiring minds want to know about this particular term benefiting bicycle manufacturers: 1.   The AAP testified that there is a real risk that kids might lick their bicycles .  Problem?  Apparently not, but the testimony was taken morbidly seriously at the time.  I wonder why Congress wants to protect bike lickers now. 2.   Perhaps you recall that the CPSC rejected the request of Learning Curve to exempt its brass bushings on toy car wheels.  This decision was a “major victory” for safety because, get ready for it, there was lead in the brass bushings although Bob Adler noted there was no danger even to a child at the “tipping point” in lead exposure.  [Adler voted to reject LC's petition nevertheless. He "had" to, the law left him no choice.]  Later the Consumers Union warned against playing brass instruments in a band because of the dreaded lead in brass.   [ Degchi (Curry cookware) is one of many traditional Indian cooking utensils and pots made of brass.  Where are all the Indian victims from generations of eating off brass?]  The CPSC also held the line against bikes, pens and ATVs over the purported lead content of their metal components because the Dems asserted that there is no safe level of lead.  Is Congress signalling that metal components are uniquely safe in bicycles?  How did Congress figure this out?  Is there something in the Congressional record on this point? The term about testing metal bicycle components first appeared in this bill when it went to the House floor on suspension.  Bills on suspension cannot be amended.  Hmmm. 3.   I recall Rachel Weintraub intoning during testimony at the CPSC and in Congress that consumers expect their products to be tested before sale.  [Former Commissioner David Pittle told the same tale at a CPSC hearing.]  Bicycles won’t be tested before sale now.  How will consumers be able to sleep peacefully?  How will they know which items are not tested (ATVs, books, bikes, resale goods of all types) and which are tested?  Won’t they have the same uncertainty again?  I can feel the fabric of our society tearing a little bit . . . . 4.   Bicycle manufacturers have indicated that tests of metal components vary depending on where you test the component.  There is unpredictable variability in their test results because . . . metal components are not precisely homogeneous.  Metals are used in components in many children’s products, not just bikes.  It follows that all metal components pose the same issue.  It also follows that metals pose an equal risk of lead poisoning regardless of the product they are used in.  So why must we test our grommets and staples when bikes can tool around untested? 5.   Is there a reason why OTHER components on a bicycle (presumably made of plastic and vinyl) must be tested?  Is there a known health hazard there that bike companies must protect against?  Will those tests achieve anything for anyone?  And why must every other product category still subject to the CPSIA test every component, whether metal or plastic? 6.   The CPSC has held that it is “technologically feasible” to make every component of every children’s product compliant to the 100 ppm standard.  There were no exceptions to their conclusion.  Why did Congress in its infinite wisdom decide that bicycles alone could be forgiven the need to meet this standard and alone to not have to test its metal components?  [The other problem child under this provision, ATVs and motocross, was written out ENTIRELY.]  Why weren’t bikes made to comply with the astute judgment of the CPSC and shift over to new materials to meet the “toughest lead standard in the world”?  After all, that only costs money, and Bob Adler assured us that the cost would be minor and worth it.  Can’t be too safe and, of course, we all know that safety delayed is safety denied.  Isn’t this action of our all-knowing Congress denying safety? As I have noted, this law picks winners and losers.  Applying reason and rationality to this arbitrary allocation of spoils is a pathetic waste of time at this point.  Congress has decided what’s best for all of us, and with the Tenenbaum gang in charge at the CPSC, you shouldn’t spend much time hoping things are going to change in the future. Henry Waxman and Rachel Weintraub won.

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CPSIA – Final CPSIA Amendment (HR 2715) Moves to President’s Desk for Signature

CPSIA – Shams and the People Who Perpetrate Them

As far back as December 2009, CPSIA zealots have been promoting the notion that a “functional purpose” exemption is the centerpiece of any fix to the CPSIA.  See Henry Waxman’s first attempt at a middle-of-the-night amendment to the CPSIA.  Chairman Inez Tenenbaum chimed in in January 2010 to support the need for a functional purpose exemption:  ” I have learned through our implementation of the law, however, that there are circumstances where the exclusion of lead in certain materials or component parts is extremely problematic. Accordingly, it would be helpful for Congress to create a new exclusion to the section 101(a) lead content limits that would allow some flexibility in cases where lead is required for a functional purpose and the elimination of the lead is impracticable or impossible. “  At their insistene, this term has always been part of each draft of CPSIA amendment being discussed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This same approach lives on in ECADA today.  Does it really make sense to offer an “out” for items or materials which “[require] the inclusion of lead because it is not practicable or not technologically feasible to manufacture” without violative lead levels?  How might that judgment be made?  No matter – the exemption sounds like a nice gesture by the powers-that-be, doesn’t it?  Leaves the door cracked just a bit so that companies in the children’s market can preserve hope, right?  The provision also addresses the unfortunate but predictable fact that the CPSC has been “unable” to grant even one exemption to the CPSIA in the last three years.  Zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothin’.  Advocates insist that this exemption process solves the problem of an overly-inflexible law without unnecessarily “endangering” children from dreaded lead. I wonder if you would feel differently if you knew that there are no conceivable materials or products that meet this standard.  The CPSC Staff confirmed it in writing.  The CPSC report on 100 ppm released last week confirms once and for all that the functional purpose exemption is an outright SHAM.  This darling of Rep. Henry Waxman and his minions (including Adler and Tenenbaum) will never be used to grant even one exemption, thus perpetuating the hoax that the CPSIA has exemptions.  It doesn’t, it never has and if the Dems get their way with this provision, it never will.  This is no accident. The CPSC Staff report concludes that the 100 ppm lead level is “technologically feasible” for all products and all materials.  Thus, they recommend the implementation of the new standard on time on August 14 to apply to everything.  This is critical – they conclude that every material and every product can be produced at the 100 ppm level.  This is actually a narrow judgment under very specific conditions set out in the CPSIA.  “Technologically feasible” is a term of art under the law – it does not have the ordinary English language meaning you might otherwise expect.  Of particular note, the definition does not refer to cost or economics in any fashion.  In other words, if it can be done (at any expense, regardless of how ridiculous), it must be done.  As the staff discovered, almost anything is “technologically feasible” under this definition in a low tech business like children’s products.  Of course, you might have to spend a lot of money or take a lot of economic risk.  The law is indifferent to these pedestrian concerns.  To reach this conclusion, staff also dispensed with the notion that anyone “used” lead at these trace levels. They note that intentional uses of lead were always at concentrations well above 300 ppm:   ”Staff has found no intentional uses of lead in materials at concentrations at or near any of the three statutory lead limits (i.e., 100 ppm, 300 ppm, or 600 ppm).  Therefore, staff does not believe that children’s product manufacturers intentionally design or make products or components with the maximum allowable lead content because lead concentration near the maximum limit would have no benefit or purpose to the product or the manufacturer.”  In other words, lead is never “included” in children’s products at these levels.  [Note to the Dem Commissioners - you can now officially apologize for your insulting remark that we manufacturers intend to "dose" children with lead if standards are even slightly loosened.] Staff also confirmed the obvious on health issues relating to these trace levels:  The contribution of products with lead levels of between 100 ppm and 300 ppm is “minimal”. In so concluding, the staff apparently rejected the testimony of the AAP’s estimable Dana Best that IQ points were being lost left and right from trace levels of lead.  So why are the Dems still insisting on a “functional purpose” exemption process?   Well, substantively, there is no rational justification for it anymore – it cannot be granted given staff’s conclusions.  That said, who is going to figure that one out?  It sounds good, makes good press for an easily-duped media, and allows Dems to adopt the stump-worthy posture of “listening” to corporate victims while still protecting children against evil companies out to poison them.  As I said, who is going to connect the dots and figure this one out?  Expect every draft of the pending CPSIA amendment to include this obsolete notion no matter the facts.  It’s good for you, remember! This is called leadership in Washington today.

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CPSIA – Shams and the People Who Perpetrate Them

CPSIA – I Think I Found Someone Who Lost a Few IQ Points . . . .

Morons on parade . . . . Never failing to disappoint, the Tribune (via its South Florida Sun-Sentinel) today published the latest left wing tripe about the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA).  In an article entitled ” Pandering politicians threaten to make hay of product safety “, Nicole Brochu unquestioningly falls in line with Henry Waxman and Rachel Weintraub on ECADA and trashes safety legislation she clearly does not understand. I am pretty sure Ms. Brochu is not a regular reader of this blog.  She has successfully remained ignorant of many indisputable facts about safety in children’s products, not to mention the detailed nature of the problems caused by CPSIA.  That certainly makes it easier to react emotionally to the “threat” posed by ANY effort to change the ill-conceived CPSIA.  And that she does . . . . Ms. Brochu starts by confirming her bias against business and ruling out any consideration of opposing viewpoints (possibly involving FACTS):   ” I don’t know about you, but when it comes to keeping the nation’s supply of kids’ toys and other consumer products safe, I’m going with the advice of doctors, scientists and watchdogs. I’m not sure we can rely on toymakers and motorcycle distributors to have the public’s collective back on this one . . . . [The] only thing [ECADA] proposes to enhance is special interests’ bottom lines — not the CPSC’s authority, or its protections of the consumers in its care.” Ah, special interests again!  She must have been talking to the estimable Jan Schakowsky.  As everyone knows, I am a “very cynical . . . special interest”.  You should see my lapel pin! Ms. Brochu regurgitates the platitudes and slogans of the shrill groups opposing any change to the law: ECADA and CPSIA are toy bills. CPSIA was passed by an overwhelming majority of both Houses of Congress and was signed by “pro-business Republican President George W. Bush”. As a result of the CPSIA, there has been a “noticeable improvement in the public’s wounded confidence” (presumably in children’s products and the federal government). “[A] bunch of pandering politicians [are trying] to muck it all up for us.  Since Republicans took over majority control of the U.S. House last year (and even before), they have set their sights on diminishing the safety act’s laudatory provisions in the name of lifting the burden off small-business owners.”  [ Ed. Note :  This is a variant of the argument that only Democrats and consumer groups care about kids, certainly not businesses or Republicans.] ECADA is “a hyperventilating overreach that would put the country’s health and safety at risk.  And that’s just what an impressive contingent of folks — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, Public Citizen, Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the CPSC’s chairman and two of its commissioners — say this measure would do.”  ECADA “[waters] down the safety act’s firm hold on lead content in children’s products . . . .” The book industry and motorcycle  industry are “special interests” seeking a pass for their products. No matter the merits of their claims, the law’s protections cannot be weakened in any way.  [ Ed. Note :  This is the "zero sum" argument again - if manufacturers are made better off by ECADA, it follows "logically" that children MUST BE worse off.] In each case, I have already replied to these misstatements and mischaracterizations in this space.  Since I seem to repeat myself endlessly, I am going to spare you one more trip around the same block today.  You can find the answers in my recent postings on ECADA. The author finishes up with one of the biggest misconceptions promoted by the opponents of ECADA: ” The bill would do away with the requirement that manufacturers test their products before bringing them to market, putting the onus instead on the tax-funded CPSC to conduct extensive, costly analyses to determine if testing is necessary. Taxpaying consumers shouldn’t shoulder the burden, or the cost, of making sure the products they buy are safe. In any reasonable scenario, that responsibility should fall on the businesses — big or small — making money selling their wares to the American public.” This remark reflects a gross misunderstanding of how businesses operate and how the proposed change in law affects businesses regulated under the CPSIA.  ECADA does not eliminate the need to test children’s products for compliance with the strictures of the CPSIA.  The lead standards are still on the books, the rabid regulators are still breathing down our necks and THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW IF YOU COMPLY WITHOUT PERFORMING PRODUCT TESTS.  What ECADA accomplishes, Ms. Brochu, is to stop the government from telling us how to run our businesses.  We know better how to comply with these rules than they do, and can save vast sums of money wasted on government-mandated testing overkill.  We will STILL HAVE TO TEST. There is no way around it.  And if we screw up, we pay.  This is not really a change, btw.  We have always been subject to American tort law and have always been on the hook for our failures. I wonder if the knuckleheads who believe that ECADA eviscerates the CPSIA understand that the government has no way to force businesses to test.  Mandated testing does not mean that every children’s product will be tested, any more than posted speed limits mean that you will never get a speeding ticket.  To survey compliance, the CPSC will always have to test products – and cops will always need radar guns.  Scurrilous businesses that don’t want to spend the money to comply will lie – and good businesses will spend themselves into bankruptcy paying for endlessly repetitive tests.  The mandated testing regime has little to do with these behaviors because this is the realm of compliance .  Rules do not eliminate bad behavior as common experience instructs.   The drafters of ECADA get this point, and have incorporated the modest concession that the standards are more important to safety than attempting to manage thousands of businesses.  Ms. Brochu would know this if she read my blog. I want to draw your attention AGAIN to the important point that Ms. Brochu’s safety neurotics have yet to answer my query – WHERE ARE THE VICTIMS OF LEAD-IN-SUBSTRATE?  If we are saving children from a dreaded threat NOW, presumably children were suffering grave consequences in the past.  Yet when asked to name these victims and provide case histories and other identifying and validating data, the advocates cannot name even ONE victim – from any country, at any time, using any children’s product by any manufacturer under any living conditions.  Zero known victims – but we must bear billions in costs to comply with a neurotics’ legislative and regulatory wet dream.  Notably, in May 2010 I published my own analysis of 11 years of CPSC recalls from 1999-2010 and found only three alleged injuries (all from lead-in-paint) and one death (from swallowing a lead bangle from a bracelet).  That’s it – and there are no known victims of lead-in-substrate in the CPSC’s publicly-available recall records in that time period to the best of my knowledge.  Or at any other time in the history of the world .  The absence of lead-in-substrate injuries is stark in comparison to prosaic risks we bear EVERY DAY.  Stair falls have killed almost as many people in Japan as fires despite the fact that many structures in Japan are made of wood (1976).  In Canada, injuries and fatalities on stairs are at least ten times greater than those from natural disasters (1985).  In the UK, it has been estimated that more than 100,000 stair injuries occur annually (1999).  Yet the federal government wants us to spend literally BILLIONS OF DOLLARS annually to protect against a health threat not associated with a SINGLE documented injury.  We are being governed by idiots. Maybe someday we can expect the media to think before it speaks.  Maybe someday the standards for journalism will include knowing what you’re talking about, investigating and challenging preconceived notions and a healthy skepticism for pat answers.  Until then, we have the Tribune and Ms. Brochu. VOTE FOR ECADA AND END THE CPSIA CHARADE!

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CPSIA – I Think I Found Someone Who Lost a Few IQ Points . . . .

CPSIA – Nancy Nord Points Out the Unpleasant Truth

In the June 1st edition of the WSJ, Nancy Nord was featured in a Letter to the Editor about over-regulation.   Commissioner Nord has had a front seat for the baloney “effort” by the Obama Dems to “reduce” burdensome regulation and to eliminate “uneconomic” regulations.  As Ms. Nord points out, the CPSC has been an oasis of normalcy during this period of regulatory introspection.  Certainly no such deregulation project has been started at the CPSC.  As she notes, she has lost vote after vote requesting cost-benefit analysis for CPSIA and other regulations – all on a party line vote.  Yes, the Dems are voting AGAINST a cost-benefit analysis again and again on the CPSC Commission. It’s your money they are spending.  It’s your business that is crumpling under the burden of their over-reaching laws and rules.  There’s nothing we can do to stop it – except to vote ALL Democrats out of office, including the big guy.  Since they won’t play ball, this is their just desserts. Here is Nancy Nord’s letter: Administration Isn’t Serious About Regulatory Reform I read with interest Cass Sunstein’s assertion that federal agencies are working to eliminate excessively burdensome regulations (“21st-Century Regulation: An Update on the President’s Reforms,” op-ed, May 26). As a commissioner at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), I can attest that no such activity is happening at this agency. We certainly have not combed through our regulations to eliminate those that are “out-of-date, unnecessary, [or] excessively burdensome,” as he suggests is being done across the government. Instead, we are regulating at an unprecedented pace and have pretty much abandoned any efforts to weigh societal benefits from regulations with the costs imposed on the public. The CPSC is an independent regulatory agency and therefore, technically, it is not required to follow the president’s executive orders such as the one Mr. Sunstein refers to mandating a “cost-effective approach to regulation.” In past administrations, the agency has always followed the lead of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which Mr. Sunstein heads, in such matters. However, under this administration, we have ignored the recent direction to look for and eliminate burdensome regulations. We are just too busy putting out new regulations. I have repeatedly requested that the agency do cost-benefit analysis on our various regulations only to have that request voted down by my fellow commissioners on a party-line basis. Consequently, we are issuing regulations without having done the necessary work to understand the impact of our actions both on those being regulated and on the public. As a result we have imposed regulatory burdens and caused people to lose their livelihoods without a real payback in terms of safety. At the CPSC, common sense regulation doesn’t even get a head-nod. Nancy A. Nord Commissioner Consumer Product Safety Commission Washington

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CPSIA – Nancy Nord Points Out the Unpleasant Truth

CPSIA – He Was Always a Weiner

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is the latest politician caught doing naughty things (” The Incredible Shrinking Weiner “, ” Weiner Admits He Sent Lewd Photos; Vows Not to Resign “, etc.).  It is no small irony that the zesty Mr. Weiner blew hot and cold on the CPSIA. It’s one of his issues – he is a long-time member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the people we are ostensibly supposed to BEG for help on the CPSIA.  On two occasions, he sent letters asking questions about this noxious law (July 7, 2010 and January 7, 2009) but never actually voted to help us.  His letters are evidence that he knew that there were serious problems affecting, among others, his constituents. Thus, we cannot nominate the Weinerman for the Hall of Fame, notwithstanding his apparent interest in our problems.  It is regrettably true that Mr. Weiner never actually DID anything for us other than send the letters.  As per the usual for EVERY SINGLE DEM, Weinerboy fell into line with the Waxmanis and refused to break ranks to support efforts to amend a law he himself questioned.  Now that’s great government!  At least he was never so heavily committed to our cause that it took time away from his hobbies.  Work-life balance is so important! Dare we hope to someday miss Mr. Weiner???

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CPSIA – He Was Always a Weiner

CPSIA – Illinois Keeps Its Priorities Straight: Meaningless Legislation

In a further triumph for populism and public waste, the bankrupt State of Illinois today passed a high priority change in the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (LPPA) as previously disclosed in this space.  This Stop-The-Presses change in the law took priority over the incomplete deficit-ridden Illinois budget, Illinois’ failure to pay its bills, its unfunded pension liabilities estimated at $140 Billion and the failure of its recent 67% increase in income tax rates to make a dent in its financial problems.  Yes, the raging issue among the legislators was to fiddle with the meaningless and useless LPPA, better known for its utility on the stump looking for votes.  Thanks heavens for politicians!

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CPSIA – Illinois Keeps Its Priorities Straight: Meaningless Legislation

CPSIA – Conformed Copy of CPSIA Amendment Sent to House Committee

Here is the conformed copy of the CPSIA amendment as it will be presented to the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week for mark-up.

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CPSIA – Conformed Copy of CPSIA Amendment Sent to House Committee

CPSIA – Publishers HOWL Over Inadequate Waxman Amendment

As rumors swirl over the demise of the Waxman Amendment (CPSEA) over Mr. Waxman’s stubborn refusal to fix the CPSIA, the Publishing industry is bemoaning their fate under the awful CPSIA. Stand in line, baby!

In an article in Publishers Weekly online, the publishers noted that last week’s hearing did not “address the needs of the book publishing industry, which argues that it should be exempted since virtually no ‘ordinary’ children’s books contain lead above the limits outlined in the CPSIA.” Hmmm. Apparently, the publishers don’t have much of a sense of humor about the burden of being swept up in new safety rules that will accomplish nothing:

“’We don’t see the sense of hundreds of thousands of books clogging the queues at the independent third-party testing facilities, only to be found safe, at a great burden of cost to publishers,’ said Allan Adler, v-p for legal and government affairs at the Association of American Publishers. . . . Adler noted that the current stay of enforcement expires in February 2011 and the publishing industry needs a solution before then. ‘We have our eye on the calendar.’ No matter what happens with “ordinary” children’s books, novelty and book-plus titles (such as those with plastic incorporated or toys attached) will still be subject to the CPSIA’s testing and other requirements.” [Emphasis added]

Eyes on the calendar . . . wow, the publishers really seemed pissed off. I wonder why.

Well, since you asked, here is the data for all book recalls in the last 11 years:

  • Choking recalls: 8 recalls, 1 injury, no deaths
  • Lead recalls: 2 recalls, no injuries, no deaths
  • Lead-in-paint: 3 recalls, no injuries, no deaths
  • Strangulation: 1 recall, no injuries, no deaths

Obviously a very dangerous category of products – books produced one injury in 11 years. The “injury” was that a child “began to choke”. Oh the horror of it all.

Think of the quality of our government – the book guys have been begging, literally BEGGING, for relief for almost two years now and the Dem-led Congress has utterly refused to act. The most the CPSC could do for them was to announce that books printed after 1985 were lead-free. Everybody, toss out your copy of “1984″. The government says so!

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the five recalls associated with lead. I am sure these injury-free lead recalls over the last 11 years will clarify how at risk we are:

  1. Parragon, Inc.: This recall for lead featured lead solder on a jewelry charm. Oooo, that’s scary.
  2. St. Martin’s Press LLC: This recall of cloth books featured a “red plastic dot” that contained high levels of lead. I assume this “dot” was made of vinyl and was not in fact coated. One might ask how this might cause lead poisoning. This recall was a head scratcher for many people after it occurred.
  3. Martin Designs, Inc.: This recall involved lead paint on the spiral binding of a book.
  4. eeBoo Corp.: This recall involved lead paint on the spiral binding of a book.
  5. Galison/Mudpuppy: This recall involved lead paint on the spiral binding of a book.

Please note that the lead-in-paint violations were ALSO violations of prior law. Lead-in-paint has been illegal for decades on children’s products.

Can anyone identify the dreaded danger posed by books? As I said long ago in this space, I always thought it was the words that were dangerous in a book. Certainly that’s what seems to be dangerous in a blog . . . .

And perhaps someone from the CPSC (I know you are reading this, I can see you!) could leave a comment here admitting how many man-hours have been spent (wasted) on the book issue under the CPSIA. I bet it’s nothing short of 500 man-hours, and would not be surprised if it’s more than a full man-year.

And remember, when the CPSC devotes all its resources to counting angels dancing on the head of a pin, they have very little time to find dangerous products (no, I mean ACTUALLY dangerous products). Feeling safer yet? [You shouldn't.]

Too bad, book people. You are a “necessary sacrifice” to the greater cause of making children so, so, SOOOOO safe.

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CPSIA – Publishers HOWL Over Inadequate Waxman Amendment

CPSIA – Recommended Non-Legislative Changes

As promised, I wanted to provide my list of non-legislative changes to accompany my list of CPSIA changes. I have repeatedly called for effective process and resource allocation to bring about results. I do not share the view that draconian penalties and super-low standards are the answer – something else, something more “human” is needed to get better outcomes. So I conclude that changes to the law alone won’t work. The agency needs to rethink its priorities and its way of interacting with the market to reduce injuries in the long term.

As a preface, it’s important to note the following:

a. My suggestions for legislative and non-legislative changes will have NO material negative impact on safety. It is my fervent hope and intention that these changes will improve results for the agency.

b. It is critical that the agency be well-functioning after amendment of the law. In my legislative changes, I have placed a priority on cleaning up purposeless complexity and tasks that are not critical to the mission of supervising safety. It is essential the CPSC have a set of ordered priorities – because if everything is important, nothing is important. In my non-legislative changes, I propose prioritized resource allocations to improve focus on real drivers of behavior.

c. I believe the agency must reestablish a basic sense of what is safe and what is not safe. Judging from recent decisions of the Commission and recent recalls, I think the line between “safe” and “unsafe” has become blurred. Being careful about safety does NOT imply a fear of “everything”. I have tailored my legislative recommendations to focus in on REAL safety risks – only. In my non-legislative recommendations, I have focused on resource allocation, outreach/education and better communication with the regulated community, striving for constructive dialogue rather than behind-the-curve reactivity.

My list of non-legislative changes:

  • Liaison office to manage Q&A with regulated companies. “No name” inquiries should be permitted. This office should be staffed adequately to ensure timely replies.
  • Amnesty program – if a regulated entity turns itself in before it is notified that it is being investigated, the regulated party may NOT be penalized.
  • Industry Outreach/Education – as a TOP priority, the CPSC must create an educational outreach program to sensitize industry to safety issues and to educate regulated companies on their legal obligations and on good safety practices. This office should operate independently of enforcement staff or activities. On-site training should be offered for free.
  • The CPSC website should be reworked to meet best standards for access to information. The current website is quirky and difficult to navigate.
  • The agency should reexamine its allocation of resources according to severity of threat, and then reorganize its assets in line with threat priorities. Threat level teams should be separately staffed and tasked, with timeliness of processing a top priority. If resources are allocated properly, the concept of a “queue” can be abandoned in favor of objective expectations on how threats are processed by the agency. The teams should be resourced independently, as though they were separate agencies (e.g., the “high threat” team would have different lab resources than the “medium threat” team).
  • Industry self-regulation should again become the principal strategy of the agency to manage markets.

I recommend that all of my legislative and non-legislative changes be implemented to reduce the administrative burden of regulating the affected markets and to improve the effectiveness of the agency’s activities. The overly broad and unrealistic demands of the CPSIA made inevitable the observed diminishing impact of the CPSC. By eliminating many unnecessary standards, bureaucracy and supervisory activities (totally eliminating vast amount of work for both agency and regulated community), focus may be restored to the task of keeping kids safe. This will result in GREATER safety, certainly not increased injuries.

The task of properly allocating resources within the agency to bring about good results in the marketplace is far more important than having draconian rules on the books. With the scheme I recommend above, the CPSC would be in the optimal position to focus on real threats and to buttress safety against evolving threats. A revitalized agency focusing on high impact activities and structured to respond quickly and insightfully against emerging threats will make the CPSC a model agency within the Federal government.

It can be done . . . with some courage, some vision and a sense of conviction. The time is NOW.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Recommended Non-Legislative Changes

CPSIA – Do-Gooder Congress Wants to End Paper Recycling, too!

Carol Baicker-McKee points out that it has been reported in Publishers Weekly that recycled paper may contain lead and phthalates – darn, there goes paper recycling, too! In an April 2 article entitled “Children’s Publishers Address CPSIA Testing and Labeling Provisions“, Publishers Weekly sets the record straight:
“The Consumer Product Safety Commission has said it will not enforce the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act when it comes to “ordinary” books printed after 1985 . . . [but] for publishers of novelty and book-plus formats—which account for a significant chunk of sales, especially in mass-market and special-market channels—the CPSIA will remain in full force, with all of its costly testing, certification and labeling requirements. . . . Several publishers said they test all of their titles, not just novelty books but also ink-on-paper formats. Most books came through the testing with flying colors, but there were a few incidences reported in which titles did not make the grade. With the increasing interest in all things “green,” it’s interesting to note that books made of recycled materials are more likely to contain some lead or phthalates and therefore less likely to make it through the testing process.” [Emphasis added]
Yes, that’s right – recycled paper might have lead or phthalates in it! Ouch, can’t use that in children’s products – for packaging, for guides and instruction manuals, or in books. Oh well, we have very large dumps available for our refuse! [See here for the benefits of paper recycling.] Btw, lead and phthalates are found in recycled paper because of inevitable contaminants like staples, binding materials, foil, whathaveyou. It’s all thrown together, heated, churned, swished around, etc., before being sifted apart. Some contaminants remain. Is that really surprising?
Imagine if Congress wrote laws after they thought about what they were doing! What a wonderful world that might be . . . . Right now, I call on the CPSC to step forward and do the right thing – ban all recycled materials or components used in children’s products – WAY too dangerous for our new America. We need all new everything, it’s a modern stimulus package.

Read more here:
CPSIA – Do-Gooder Congress Wants to End Paper Recycling, too!

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