Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HTA Letter to House Commerce Oversight Committee Regarding Regulatory Reform and the CPSIA

January 26, 2011

The Honorable Cliff Stearns
Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

The Honorable Diana DeGette
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

The Honorable Fred Upton,
Chairman, Commerce and Energy Committee

The Honorable Mary Bono Mack
Chair, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade

RE: House Commerce Committee, Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Hearing to Examine Administration's Regulatory Reforms

To the Leadership of the House Commerce and Energy Committee:

On behalf of the 613 small batch children's product manufactures and independent retailers we represent, we would like to express our appreciation for the committee's attention to President Obama's recent executive order calling for less red tape in government regulation.

The President wrote in his recent Wall Street Jounal editorial, “Rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs”. We believe that the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) provides a vivid illustration of the unreasonable burdens to which he refers.

Passed in 2008 as a response to quality failures in mass market toys, the CPSIA mandates third party testing for all children's products including toys, clothing, shoes, science kits, sporting equipment, and even compact discs and DVDs. This testing, which costs between several hundred and several thousand dollars per item, is required whether a business makes 100 units or 100,000 units per year. In this way, the law grossly discriminates against small batch manufacturers who must pay for the same testing as multi-national companies like Mattel.

These tests are mandated not only for lead content, but also, in the case of toys, for ASTM use and abuse tests, which add significant additional costs per toy.

Since the inception of the CPSIA, numerous small businesses have already ceased production, cut back on their offerings, introduced fewer new items, moved production overseas to reduce costs, and/or raised prices—all as a response to increased compliance costs. And, fewer new businesses have entered the marketplace.

We have asked the CPSC to simplify and narrow the scope of the CPSIA. Although the commission has made certain beneficial rulings such as exempting fabric and natural materials from lead content testing, we have been told by the Commission that compliance burdens cannot be further reduced without Congressional action. And, far from simplifying the law, the Commission has created confusion in many areas. In particular, its definition of a “children's product” is a 62 page document which provides more vagueness than clarity. Indeed, much of the CPSC's rulemaking on the CPSIA would not satisfy President Obama's executive order that “Regulations are accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.”

We are also concerned about the possibility that the CPSC may retroactively lower the lead content standard to 100ppm from the 300ppm standard which was previously mandated by the CPSIA. This lower standard, which is lower than the amount of lead the FDA allows in food, is impractical, not scientifically justified, and nearly impossible for small businesses to achieve.

We believe that the CPSIA can and should be fixed to make it less complicated, more focused on legitimate safety hazards, and fairer to small businesses. Our platform of proposed reforms is attached with this letter. We sincerely hope that Congress will act to reform the CPSIA. As President Obama wrote, “Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way.”

On behalf of our 613 member small businesses, we appreciate your willingness to consider our concerns. We hope to preserve the long-standing American tradition of hand-crafted children's goods while ensuring safety for the children who enjoy them.


The Handmade Toy Alliance

Sunday, January 2, 2011

HTA Letter to the CPSC about Extending the CPSIA Stay of Enforcement

January 3, 2011

Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Room 502
4330 East-West Highway,
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814

RE: CPSC Lifting of Stay of Enforcement under Section 102 of the CPSIA

Dear Honorable Commissioners:

As the Commission prepares for the lifting of the stay of enforcement for the CPSIA in just five short weeks, we would like to share our members’ concerns regarding this action and how it affects their abilities to produce children’s products in small batches.

A toy by Selecta Spielzeug of Germany,
now celebrating 2 years of extinction under the CPSIA.
Courtesy of HTA member

We appreciate the opportunities the Commission has granted us to share our concerns regarding the CPSIA. Our fundamental belief continues to be that the CPSIA focuses resources on processes rather than safety and needlessly hampers the Commission's ability to make product safety determinations based on risk.

While the Commission has been able to address some of our concerns, there continue to be a number of issues that require resolution prior to our members being able to effectively implement testing protocols under the CPSIA. Our greatest concern remains the cost of third-party testing, which disproportionately affects small-batch manufacturers. We have testified in congressional hearings in both the House and the Senate that lifting the stay now will unnecessarily doom hundreds of small family businesses.

In the last month, Congress has shown it's determination to amend the CPSIA. At the December 2, 2010 Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, both Chair Tenenbaum and Commissioner Northup testified about ways Congress could add flexibility to the CPSIA. The Senate also heard from industry stakeholders, including the HTA, who shared concerns with the legislation and urged for common sense amendment to rectify the many unintended consequences.

We strongly believe that a properly crafted amendment can and will protect small businesses, maintain a vibrant selection of children's products in the marketplace, reduce compliance costs, create a more effective CPSC, and promote common sense without sacrificing safety. But, until this legislative amendment is completed, lifting the stay would create chaos for our member’s businesses.

Furthermore, the component part testing rule has yet to be finalized and manufacturers are still working to understand the draft rules. While we have been advising our members that this ruling will be forthcoming and doing our best to share what their responsibilities will be, we have yet to receive clear, concise guidance. Without this formal ruling, we continue to have difficulty explaining to our component part suppliers the necessity for their testing information.

To that point, many of our member’s suppliers are refusing to test altogether, or refusing to supply their certifications to our members. In addition, for those members who purchase supplies direct from fabric and craft shops, such as JoAnn Fabrics or Michael’s, supplier certifications are not readily made available. Finalized rulings are necessary to push compliance upstream and help our members prove their testing protocol under the CPSIA.

Finally, while we appreciate the work of Neal Cohen, the CPSC's new small business ombudsperson, he has had only a few short months to initiate his outreach and education efforts. We would very much like to see these efforts more firmly in place before the stay is lifted.

For these reasons, we urge the Commission to further extend the stay of enforcement under Section 102 of the CPSIA.

On behalf of our 609 member small businesses, we appreciate your willingness to consider our concerns. We hope to preserve the long American tradition of hand-crafted children's goods while ensuring safety for the children who enjoy them.


The Handmade Toy Alliance

A listing of all 609 business members of the Handmade Toy Alliance is available at

Board members:
Cecilia Leibovitz, Craftsbury Kids, VT
Dan Marshall, Peapods Natural Toys, MN
Jill Chuckas, Crafty Baby, CT
Mary Newell, Terrapin Toys, OR
Jolie Fay, Skipping Hippos, OR
Marianne Mullen, Polka Dot Patch, VT
Rob Wilson, Challenge & Fun, MA
Randall Hertzler, euroSource, PA
Kate Glynn, A Child's Garden, MA

cc: Neal Cohen, Small Business Ombudsman, CPSC