Thursday, March 31, 2011

HTA Endorses New CPSIA Reform Bill

On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade released a discussion draft of a proposed amendment to the CPSIA. This document is the first attempt to begin a meaningful discussion of CPSIA reform since the demise of Rep. Waxman's bill a year ago, which we had endorsed with reservations.

In the intervening year, we've seen more small businesses fold because of the unintended consequences of the CPSIA. And, we've seen a momentous election which drastically changed the political landscape on Capitol Hill.

While this new bill does not give us everything we've been asking for, we believe it saves most of our member businesses from extinction. Furthermore, we are relieved that the bill is by no means a wholesale repeal of the CPSIA but seeks to find a middle ground. We are hopeful that Senate Democrats will see it as a thoughtful and measured reform worthy of meaningful bipartisan discussions.

In general, this bill would restore the CPSC's ability to set its own priorities and would allow the commission to use the tool of third party testing as a scalpel rather than as an axe. Instead of requiring third party testing for every children's product, the commission could target specific categories for specific tests in areas where the benefits of testing would outweigh the costs. This would restore the commission's volition to analyze risk and greatly reduce the need for businesses to repetitively test perfectly safe products.

Furthermore, the bill would exempt one-of-a-kind items from third party testing and would require the CPSC to either exempt small batch manufacturers from third party testing or allow us to use alternative testing methods such as XRF screening for lead in substrates. Small batch manufacturers would be given a safety valve which was originally left out of the CPSIA.

This by far the best bill we've seen to date. The Handmade Toy Alliance therefore endorses this bill both for its text and also for the context we hope it will create—a bipartisan and bicameral dialog which quickly leads to meaningful reform of the CPSIA.

Image by Robert Mahar.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our (Unpublished) Letter to the Editor of the New York Times

We sent the following letter to the New York Times in response to their staff editorial opposing reform of the CPSIA. One week later, we have received no response and our letter has not been published--nor has any other response to their extremely shallow editorial.

February 24, 2011

Dear Editors,

The past two years have been heartbreaking. Since the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008, we've seen dozens of our friends and colleagues lose their family businesses. They were forced to close not because their products were unsafe, but because they simply could not afford the costs of third party testing which is mandated by the CPSIA.

Imagine our dismay this morning when your newspaper described the plight of these families as a “canard”, as a misleading fabrication. Much as we wish that the CPSIA effects on small businesses were make-believe, they are, as your own paper has reported, very real and very painful.

A large multinational company like Mattel can afford to spend a few hundred dollars to test a production run of 200,000 plastic toys in China, but a small-batch toymaker in the US simply cannot afford to spend the same amount on batch of 20. The mathematics of the CPSIA are skewed entirely in favor of big business.

As many Democrats, Republicans and even the CPSC itself has said, we need common-sense reform of the CPSIA which protects small businesses while preserving safety. We hope that your newspaper will look past the canard that this is all “part of a standard antiregulation litany” and appreciate the real effects of the CPSIA on real small businesses owned by real people.


The Handmade Toy Alliance