Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An Update on the CPSIA...

I received the following letter in my inbox just now.

Dear Mrs. Ethridge,

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns over new regulatory changes being implemented by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). I have been an outspoken critic of many of these changes as they are both unnecessarily burdensome and overreaching. I appreciate having your input on the issue.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 was hastily passed through Congress and signed into law last fall in response to a lead paint scare involving children's toys manufactured in China. Unfortunately, the law places unnecessary burdens on domestic producers requiring onerous testing for lead and other toxic substances for any products geared towards children age 12 and under. It is disappointing that Congress did not see fit to pass a law that protected children from lead in a way that did not threaten so many businesses.

Because of the new regulations which take effect today, small businesses across the country may be forced to close their doors or drastically increase their production costs in order to comply with CPSC guidelines. This foreseeable consequence was one of the main reasons for my opposition to the CPSIA last year. In the current economic climate it is imperative that the government protect individual ingenuity and hard work and not over-regulate the backbone of American enterprise, small businesses.

In response to this reactionary policy I have introduced S.374, a bill to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide regulatory relief to small and family-owned businesses. This bill will help minimize the negative impacts of these new regulations through the following six major reforms:

1.Delay 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.Allow 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.Exempt 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.Prevent 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.Provide 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.

Currently, S.374 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of which I am a member. I look forward to soliciting support for these changes from my colleagues on the committee and will continue to push for common-sense policies addressing product regulation. While I was hopeful that Democratic leadership would have worked with me to enact this change in law last week before the deadline, I will continue to work to improve this law so that business can get out from under these onerous regulations. I look forward to enacting a solution that protects both children and family businesses.

Again, thank you for contacting me to express your thoughts and concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future with any issues important to you or your family. It is an honor to serve you and the people of South Carolina.


Jim DeMint
United States Senator

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