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