Search Results for ‘CPSIA’

Recalling Sen. Mark Pryor’s role in CPSIA

Readers who followed Overlawyered in 2009-10 will recall that the closest this site has ever come to a crusade was in covering the truly horrible Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, enacted after a media-fed tainted-toy panic, a law that needlessly drove out of business many small retailers and manufacturers of children’s goods posing no hazard whatsoever to consumers. Some will further recall that the chief Senate handler of the legislation was Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), who cut a poor figure throughout as both ill-informed and dismissive about the side effects his own legislation was having.

Now Sen. Pryor is locked in a tight race for re-election with challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, and a group called the Arkansas Project has been reminding readers of Pryor’s record on CPSIA, digging up many new details in an August series written by Washington, D.C.-area policy analyst Marc Kilmer (who generously credits Overlawyered coverage as a source throughout). Most of the series can be found at this tag or via search. Here is a guide to individual installments in the series, supplemented by links to further coverage from our archives:

Arkansas voters — and everyone who wants to learn how a Congress can fail spectacularly at its legislative responsibilities — should read this series in full.

CPSIA de la Plata? Argentina un-bans book imports

Following a worldwide outcry, Argentina has promised to lift restrictions on the importation of foreign books, which had purportedly been based on fear of dangerous lead content in the ink. According to a report by my Cato colleague Juan Carlos Hidalgo:

“If you put your finger in your mouth after paging through a book, that can be dangerous,” said Juan Carlos Sacco, the vice-president of an industrialist organization that supports the measure.

MercoPress carries reporting in English translation on the original measure and on the promised reversal. Under the rule of President Cristina Fernandez, the Argentine government has taken a number of steps considered hostile to press critics, including controls on the newsprint business, and criminal charges against economists who report that prices are rising faster than the official inflation index.

Where did the Argentine officials get the idea that lead in book inks might be enough of a public health problem to justify drastic government action? Maybe from the U.S. Congress. As I explained in this City Journal piece, the notoriously extreme and poorly drafted 2008 CPSIA law imposed across-the-board requirements for lead testing of older children’s products, with the result that, according to guidance from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was considered doubtfully lawful to sell or distribute most pre-1985 books for children. That set of restrictions was eventually relaxed, following a massive outcry from dealers, publishers, libraries and lovers of children’s books.

More CPSIA overkill: lowering lead limits

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By a 3-2 party line vote, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to lower already infinitesimal thresholds of lead permitted in children’s products to 100 parts per million. The main impact will not be on surface paints or other flakable/chewable hazards to the youngest users, but on “substrate” elements such as metal alloys employed in such objects as bicycle parts, school binders, and ballpoint pens, an even wider swath of which will be hard to sell or resell without breaking the law. [Bloomberg; commissioners Nord, Northup; Woldenberg, more and yet more]

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Walter Crane, The Baby’s Opera (1876), courtesy BabylonBaroque.

CPSIA: “Toymakers Would Get Relief Under Republican Plan”

Reform efforts are finally afoot in the House of Representatives, at least two years after they should have started, but a three-member majority of the CPSC (two Obama appointees and a holdover) is defending the law on many though not all of its worst points. [Bloomberg, HuffPo] “This is by far the best bill we’ve seen to date,” declares the Handmade Toy Alliance. Tireless CPSIA critic Rick Woldenberg testified with other witnesses at a House Commerce hearing and contributes an op-ed to The Hill about the law’s irrationality. More coverage: Carter Wood/ShopFloor, Sean Wajert. And a memo by committee staff discussing some of the key issues is here (PDF).

Do NYT editorialists even read their paper’s own CPSIA coverage?

The New York Times editorial page continues to dismiss criticism of the testing burdens of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 on small manufacturers and retailers as “part of a standard antiregulation litany.” But on October 30, 2009 the paper itself ran a sadly belated but otherwise decently executed article PieManEthelEveretta by reporter Leslie Wayne from which a fair-minded reader would conclude that the small makers’ complaints about the law are only too well-grounded (“Burden of Safety Law Imperils Small Toymakers.”)

If one were to take a charitable view, one might commend the Times editorialists for at last deigning to concede that the law might usefully be “tweaked,” at least within a very narrow latitude. They finally acknowledge that there “might be a way to exempt products from testing if they very clearly do not pose a lead-related hazard,” without acknowledging that the great majority of products swept under the law’s coverage fall into exactly such a category. But they continue to insist that even older kids be denied access to products that could not pass BikeItalianPosterCPSIA’s lead testing, including whole categories of products like kids’ bicycles and ballpoint pens whose designs still cannot dispense with the (entirely harmless) use of brass and suchlike alloys. Only the repeated staying or postponed enforcement of many of the law’s requirements has spared the country a long list of similar absurdities — while the legal absurdities that the CPSC has not stayed or postponed have already wiped out makers and vendors of harmless products from coast to coast.

Even under the best of circumstances, the Times’s editorialists would find it hard to live down their cruel, ideologically blinkered track record on the CPSIA issue. But couldn’t they at least pretend to be following the coverage in their own paper? More: Handmade Toy Alliance. And Rick Woldenberg offers a critique of the the Times’s new, and anything but improved, news-side reporting.

House hearing on CPSIA Thursday

Speaker line-up via Rick Woldenberg; opening statements by Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.); ABC News coverage; Republicans reportedly preparing legislation that would amend, but not repeal, the ill-conceived statute; a move to strip funding for the controversial product database.

A separate piece of legislation may address the law’s devastating effects on the sale of youth motorcycles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles:

“The original legislation Congress passed was meant to keep kids safe from lead content in toys,” said Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), who comes from a state where smaller recreational vehicles are popular. “Ironically, the overreaching enforcement wound up putting kids at risk by forcing them to use larger more dangerous machines that are intended only for adults.”

Rehberg’s “Kids Just Want to Ride” Act, which he introduced last month, has 41 co-sponsors, including seven Democrats. A similar bill in the last Congress garnered 70 co-sponsors, including 24 Democrats.

February 10 deadline for CPSIA testing rules

Already postponed in their effect more than once, the testing rules required by the 2008 law are still impractical enough to threaten widespread business disruptions and closures. While the Consumer Product Safety AnimalsBall5aCommission has come to agree that the law does not require endlessly reduplicative testing of the same components, “the hoped-for market for ‘CPSIA tested and certified’ components has not yet developed.” CPSC needs to extend the deadline while awaiting a more workable regulatory fix or better yet Congressional reconsideration. Carter Wood explains.

More: on the brighter side, the newly constituted House Energy and Commerce committee was quick out of the gate with a public meeting on CPSIA reform [Rick Woldenberg, statement, reminder of unhelpful role of “consumer” groups] And Wacky Hermit offers a CPSIA Primer.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Elise Bake, Der Ball Der Tiere (“The Animals’ Ball”, German, 1891), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

Approaching deadline on CPSIA compliance

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has repeatedly delayed the implementation of the testing and certification rules required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the economics of which is likely to capsize many smaller producers. Now time may be running out for further extensions after the Feb. 10 deadline. [Rick Woldenberg, AmendTheCPSIA.com] Comments from affected parties are here.