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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, from my unnamed source on Capitol Hill, a letter from six congressmen from Pennsylvania, addressed to Waxman, Rush, Barton and Whitfield. The original file is available for download (PDF). The letter is dated January 13, 2008 but the year of record should read 2009. Glad to know I'm not the only one making that mistake.

Unnamed Source wrote:
January 13, 2008

The Hon. Henry A. Waxman
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce

The Hon. Bobby Rush
Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection

The Hon. Joe Barton
Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce

The Hon. Ed Whitfield
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection

Dear Chairman and Ranking Members,

It has come to our attention that the implementation of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which was signed into law during the 11oth Congress, may unexpectedly threaten the vitality of small businesses across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The passage of various safety enhancements included in the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act was critical in the midst of numerous high-profile toy recalls in 2007. However, it appears the legislation that passed the House with broad bipartisan support also created many unintended consequences that will challenge businesses of all sizes and may force some to cease production.

While we agree it is critically important to ensure the products Americans purchase are safe and free of hazardous contaminants, it is evident the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act needs clarification and refinement. Without modification, this legislation will irreparably damage valuable Pennsylvania businesses and jeopardize the jobs of many of our constituents.

In the throes of an increasingly painful economic recession, it is imperative that Congress works to help businesses operating in good faith comply with these new regulations - a daunting process many family-owned and operated businesses have found difficult and expensive. These businesses want nothing more than to maintain production in compliance with these new regulations. However, particularly smaller operations are fearful the cost associated with achieving compliance may be too high to remain solvent.

In light of this, we believe the Committee on Energy and Commerce should consider hosting a hearing on this matter as soon as possible to analyze the economic impact of the bill's implementation, and determine proper action for Congress to take to ensure the viability of local businesses and address the plight of the workers they employ.

Signed,

Charles W. Dent
Tim Holden
JIm Gerlach
Todd Russell Platts
Christopher Carney
Joe Pitts

All members of Congress from Pennsylvania
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm very glad that Congresspeople are getting the message, but confused that they are asking the CPSC to provide "relief." Is the CPSC even able to amend the law? Yes, they can clarify points that are not clear. But right now, component testing is flat-out not allowed. Can the CPSC really make it allowed without Congress amending the law? Ironic they all voted for it so enthusiastically and are now writing these letters. "Uh, oops, we didn't realize what we were voting for. . . ."
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, the letters and calls and emails must be doing something for the Congress-folks to speak up about it!
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding Rick Woldenberg's testimony that CPSIA represents a serious legal liability in conflicting with Sarbanes-Oxley:

Unnamed Source wrote:
FYI - I contacted Maryland 's Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes and here is what I found out.

Senator Sarbanes' legal staff is meeting with the CPSC to discuss the CPSIA issue this week, and Senator Mikulski is personally contacting the CPSC concerning this matter.

A representative from Mikulski's staff wrote to us:
Quote:
...Senator Mikulkski is contacting the Consumer Product Safety Commission directly to ask them to look in to this issue [issue of existing inventory compliance and other problems of the legislation]. You are not alone. We apparently have received several hundred requests to have the Feb.10 deadline date for compliance pushed back until this problem can be addressed.

It is a step in the right direction.
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Via HTA:
Quote:
January 15,2009

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
&
The Honorable Mark L. Pryor
Chairman, Subcommittee an Consumer Affairs

Dear Chairmen Rockefeller and Pryor:

I write regarding the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and concerns that have been brought to my attention by a number of Michigan companies. Based on the large number of news organizations reporting on this Issue, I suspect you have also been hearing from companies in your states and other states expressing similar concerns.

We all agree that it is of the utmost importance to protect our children's health and safety by banning lead and phtbalates from children's products, as demonstrated by the widespread support in Congress of H.R. 4040. Given the current lack of resources at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), however, I sun concerned that the effort to protect our children from dangerous substances has had some unintended consequences including harming small companies that that Act was not aimed at in the first place. Let me give you a few examples from my state of Michigan.

One example is a small Ann Arbor company making "organic" handcrafted wooden toys. Although their products are made of wood, which contains no lead or plastic, and are coated with food grade bee's wax, this company has had to shut down production because they can't afford to test every product as the Act apparently requires. To date they have received no guidance from CPSC telling them their products would be exempt from the testing requirements. Although CPSC indicates it is working to exempt from testing products made from uncoated wood and certain other products that clearly contain no lead, guidance coming from the CPSC has not been issued in a timely manner and has often been uncIear. For instance, it is unclear as to whether food grade coating on wood products would be exempt. I have also been informed that even if a wood coating such as a varnish is tested and found to be lead free, all children's products coated in that varnish must still be tested. Although the CPSC tells us it hopes to build a case to argue that one-time testing of coating materials should be sufficient, it is uncertain what the outcome of those efforts will be or how much time this will take. In the meantime companies have to assume everything must be tested and many have shut down production and laid-off workers because they cannot afford the testing.

A second example is the CPSC guidance given to thrift and consignment stores. Several consignment shop owners have told me they find this guidance unhelpful. Although CPSC determined that resellers are not required to test children's products in their inventory for compliance with lead limits, if they sell a product with lead they are subject to fines and penalties. These shop owners say it would cost several hundred dollars to test each product individually. As a result thrift and consignment store owners are uncertain about how to proceed and many fear they will be unable to sell some or much of their inventory.

At a time when the President and Congress are working to take all possible steps to create jobs we are facing a situation where the unintended consequences of well intentioned legislation has resulted in the ofjobs. I hope you will take an urgent look at what might be done to mediate these job losses while continuing to protect children's health. This could be done through hearings or by providing the CPSC with the resources and direction needed to allow them to issue guidance in a more clear, rational and timely manner.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Michigan is suffering from the highest unemployment in the nation and I want to avoid expenses which are not commonsensical.

Sincerely,
Carl Levin
Senator MI
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Via CPSIA-Ning, Report on Today's CPSIA Congressional Meeting
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is from Senator Snowe, ranking member of the senate committe on small business and entrepreneurship.
unnamed source wrote:
Nancy A. Nord, Acting Chairman
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Washington, DC 208 14

Acting Chairman Nord,
As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I am keenly aware of how crucial it is that statutes are drafted and implemented in a manner that takes into account their impacts sn small business owners. With that in mind, businesses are extremely concerned with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) and how it is being applied by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). I am sending this letter to further inquire into the CPSC's interpretations of the statute and to ensure that its actions are satisfying the critical responsibiiity of protecting the public, while mitigating the negative impacts on small businesses.

The CPSIA provides the greatest expansion of the CPSC since Congress first established the Agency in 1972. WhiIe it was imperative that Congress pass this vital legislation, specifically to address concerns raised about the safety of imported goods, small businesses are understandably facing complications in comprehending and complying with the law. I appreciate that the CPSC has decided to initiate a proposed rulemaking to utilize section 10 1 (b)(l ) of the Act - in relation ta goods made of natural materials - which allows the Commission to exclude, from lead testing requirements, merchandise deemed safe for public use. At the same time, many mare small business owners feel that their products should also be excluded pursuant to this section, but have yet to hear if the CPSC plans to act on additional cases. I cannot overstate how critical it is that CPSC expeditiously work, within the constraints of the law, to utilize this section and exclude merchandise that poses no danger to the public. Additionally, the business community should be made aware of the process which the CPSC intends to take when determining what to exempt from third-party testing requirements. Finally, if products are excluded, the decision must be presented with sufficient clarity and certainty for business owners to fully comprehend the legal status of their unique merchandise. I am hopeful that you can promptly address this concern as many are now faced with the uncertainty of whether or not they will be required to begin testing on February 10,2009, when many of the new restrictions take effect.

I am also concerned with section 103 of the CPSIA, which appears to mandate that manufacturers of children's products place, to the extent practicable, permanent, distinguishing marks on the merchandise to identify detailed characteristics. I hope that you are considering ways to employ this provision in a manner that is both effective and reasonable for small businesses, and that you are communicating with those businesses so they can take the appropriate steps to comply. I am unaware of any CPSC guidance explaining how a business owner will determine the interpretation of "to the extent practicable;" therefore, I urge you to quickly provide direction on this matter.

While these concerns represent some of the most pressing issues, there are certainly more that the CPSC must clarify, such as: inaccessibility guidelines; clear testing requirements; cost of testing; and the availability of approved laboratories to perform testing mandated by the CPSIA. It is also imperative that the CPSC begin educating small business owners of new requirements under this law. I urge you to immediately begin working with federal, state, and local governments, as well as private entities to help ease the burdens on small businesses during this difficult transition.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. If you have fbrther questions please do not hesitate to contact myself, or Jacob Triolo with my staff at (202) 224-7884.

Sincerely,
Olympia Snowe
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In an Etsy forum some people are really praising the contents of this letter to Nord. While I definitely think it's a step in the right direction, I want to just get this straight......
Rush, Waxman, etc. wrote this law without thinking about its effect on business, the cost of compliance or how it would be regulated. Now, those very politicians that wrote this thing and threw it in the CPSC's lap to enforce and regulate are now telling the CPSC to get their act together, figure the law out and fix the mess these guys created by not doing their homework in the first place?!?!?! These guys should have thought of this crap BEFORE trying to make it a law and THEN going back to try to fix what they screwed up! This letter "asks" the CPSC to consider component testing and the CPSC has already told us that they can't do that because the law just plain doesn't allow it. As someone posted somewhere..."the rats are the first ones to get off the sinking ship."
Can the CPSC really make the changes that need to be made without Congress? I don't think so.
It's a shame that it had to take so many phone calls, letters, forums, etc. to get these politicians to even get to this point. I only hope this will actually lead to some positive changes to save us all from all of this frustration, confusion, dismay, disgust, etc.
Let's try to remember these feelings the next time these guys are up for re-election.
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HUGE NEWS!!!!!!!

Waxman, Pryor, Rush & Rockerfeller have sent a letter to Nancy Nord (pdf) listing 4 major concerns: component testing, books, resale shops and the effect on small businesses. This could be the break in the dam we've been looking for. None of these guys have been budging up till now. I think our message is starting to come through! This letter is seven pages long.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, that is news. I'm hoping it'll have some impact, especially before the Feb deadline.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess like Rick Waldenburg on his blog..I don't find the letter that comforting but at least it shows they are feeling pressure.

http://learningresourcesinc.blogspot.com/2009/01/cpsia-lessons-of-nero.html
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THE TIDE INDEED APPEARS TO BE TURNING!!!! These letters from Congress are putting pressure on the CPSC in a BIG way. While the top dogs at CPSC ultimately answer to the President, the Agency has to go through Congress to get its budget approved. This means that when a member of Congress talks, they listen.....They're talking now, and making specific demands that are consistent with our industry needs.

So far, I have reviewed all the supportive letters I have been able to find on various online sources, letters from the following Senators and members of Congress:
• Senator Olympia Snow to Nancy Nord w/Shawne McGibbon, SBA Office of Advocacy and Acting Administrator Baruah, SBA CC’d; January 16
• Congressman Anthony D. Wiener to Nancy Nord; January 7
• Charles W. Dent, Tim Holden, Jim Gerlach, Todd Russell Platts, Christopher Carney and Joe Pitts (all Congressmen) to Henry Waxman, Chairman and Joe Barton, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Bobby Rush, Chariman and Ed Whitfield, Ranking Member of the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection; Dated January 13
• Congressman J. Gresham Barrett to to Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Bobby Rush, Chariman of the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection; Dated January 9
• Senator Carl Levin to John D. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Committee on Consumer, Science, and Transportation and Mark L. Pryor, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs; Dated January 15
• Henry Waxman, Chairman of Committee on Energy and Commerce, Bobby Rush, Chairman of Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, John D. Rockfeller, Chairman, and Mark L. Pryor, Senator to Nancy Nord, Acting Chairman of CPSC and Thomas Hill Moore, Commissioner, CPSC

I also got a letter back today from my own Congressman, Steve Buyer. As it turns out, he also serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and has "assured" me that he will keep my concerns in mind as they discuss the matter in committee. It wasn't nearly as strong or specific and thus reassuring as the other letters I'm seeing. But then again, I’m just a single a constituent. He may have stronger words in committee when he sits down to discuss this with other members. Several are now weighing in to our side, and there’s safety in numbers.

The reason these recent letters are so encouraging to me is that I have been very skeptical about Congress’ willingness or ability to fix this mess. This is primarily because of the political implications facing the members of Congress that voted on this (i.e. all of them). We all know how sensitive Congress is to appearances – after all, that’s what led to the passage of this thing to begin with. I’m referring to the feel-good factor. They passed this law without sufficient thought or consideration of its impact because they perceived it to be a slam-dunk with the media and thus the public. And, it was….until now. Despite this, and all the pressure we’ve been putting on them, my concern has been that it will take a good measure of political courage to own the mistakes, which is essentially what we’ve asked them to do. I didn’t have faith that they would do this. But, happily, these letters prove me otherwise.

Yes, I share a measure of disgust at the back-peddling and the fact that these members of Congress which even included the author of the CPSIA himself, are implying that the CPSC is the problem. But, I don’t really care about any of that – I just want my business to survive and thrive. So, I am encouraged. I'm just glad they are getting on board, because until now, I had little faith that they would. They may not be willing to own up to their role in creating this problem, but they sure can act to minimize its impact.

The CPSC cannot amend (i.e. change the language of) the law. That would take another act of Congress...essentially passage of a new law. Since this would be very difficult politically, I suspect that Congress will instead opt for putting pressure on the CPSC to ensure that the rules are written in a way that lessens the impact on their constituents. This is certainly how it appears to be playing out.....Remember, Congress makes laws – federal agencies write the rules on how to implement them. At this point, the CPSC has way more flexibility in how they implement than Congress does to amend.

We’re not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. The CPSC is caught between a rock and a hard place...they gotta keep Congress happy if they want their budget to stay intact but they still have to avoid the appearance that they are "caving in" to business at the expense of child safety. Politically, this is going to require careful action on the part of the CPSC, which is why I suspect much of the most recent guidance hasn’t offered significant relief (e.g. thrift stores don’t have to test but are still subject to penalties, and exemptions for “natural” materials). The CPSC is proceeding with extreme caution.

This is why it is more important to KEEP UP THE PRESSURE ON CONGRESS. It appears to be working, but it will take sustained effort. Let’s keep this snowball rolling! Also, if you haven’t done so already, let’s get those comments into the CPSC about the lead testing requirements….they are due by the end of the day on MONDAY.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is a good step. But after going through all of this over the past 2 months I have a different feeling about our government then I did a few months ago, I don't get a warm cozy feeling from the Rush/Waxman letter. Seems like there is finger pointing. Congress needs to work with industry not special interest groups to reorganize this...They need to take this back and start over.
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Kathleen F.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moving more entries:

dillybopdesigns wrote:
http://tinyurl.com/7jphem

IF the CPSC acted on the House of Reps requests, lots of us would be in the clear, so at this point, I am crossing fingers AND toes! Smile

What do y'all think about it?


jen m wrote:
I feel it is a good step but I think that they are pushing this off again to the CPSC. This mess didn't start in their hands and they have been doing what Congress asked them to do. I think Congress needs to take this animal back and start over. Work WITH industry - not against it.
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