Three days until National Bankruptcy Day

I know many have been waiting for this; the short version is, nothing has changed. You are asked to visit your local legislatiors offices on National Bankruptcy Day. A well timed press release would help. Most of the activism efforts are coalescing on twitter; search for CPSIA. If you follow me, you’ll find lots of others involved, maybe local to you. Here’s another good round up of other’s activities and suggestions. Lastly, these most recent developments are being discussed in the forum.

Last Thursday and Friday, no fewer than seven documents were released by the CPSC. For our purposes, the first section of the enforcement policy has gained the most attention. This could be seen as a short term possible victory if you make sewn products with no metal or plastic parts but nothing has changed. First of all, there’s a difference between a stay, a policy and a law. A stay is a press release about a policy, what an enforcement body such as the CPSC intends to do. A stay is not a law. Other enforcement agencies -such as the Attorneys General of each state- can enforce the CPSIA law. There are three central reasons why nothing has changed.

  1. Legal challenges from special interest groups.
  2. State Attorneys Generals enforcement action
  3. Retail compliance requirements

Legal challenges:
This can still be challenged in court just as the retroactive phthalate ban was overturned (pdf) last Thursday. Aside from direct challenges to the relaxed CPSIA enforcement, it can still get worse as Walter Olson said

It should be noted that private activist and lawyer groups often shop potential cases to state AGs’ offices, and in turn are made monetary beneficiaries of resulting fines and settlements (more on California’s CEH here).

If you know your products would withstand the scrutiny of groups like this, I say go ahead and ship. [Related: Read Olson’s entry for analysis of other affected industries such as electronics, libraries and resale.]

State Attorneys Generals
Even barring lawsuits from special interest groups, each state’s Attorneys General can take it upon themselves to enforce CPSIA within their borders. Previously off the radar, Connecticut’s AG has said he intends to enforce it vigorously (a contrary opinion). In addition to CT, four other states,California, Arizona, Illinois and New York (1 and 2) had filed to have their state laws take precedence over CPSIA. Illinois law could be seen as draconian; the standard there defines “child” as someone aged 16 or younger.

Retail compliance
What kind of a relationship do you have with your stores? Are you a person with a known history of integrity? Resellers have been left hanging and very wary. Some retailers won’t take your word for it; this retailer says she’s been dubious of the quality of GCCs she’s been given so she tested and found the products she was shipped don’t pass. She said

…we went ahead today and tested the products from this company. And you guessed it. The rhinestone products all failed miserably. So where does that leave us? With un-saleable items that must be destroyed and a manufacturer who is either being deceptive or ignorant themselves about their responsibilites. I’m trying not to pass judgement…but the fact we haven’t heard back from our initial inquires regarding the lab report leaves me suspicious.

Her entry is required reading so do click through for the whole saga from a retailer’s perspective.

No one can tell you what to do. The feeling of many is that considering the likely backlash, we are in no less a precarious position than before. Most (okay, all) of the retailers I’ve spoken to, are still requiring GCCs. Furthermore, they are enforcing the August standard of 300ppm.

Do as I say, not as I sue
Hey, are you in the mood for something funny? One of the special interest groups that lobbied strenuously for the law, the NRDC, is distributing a Onesie® (a trademark owned by Gerber) without GCCs. As a spokesperson said, they are exempt from CPSIA because they are not the manufacturer. In fact, the item is a private label product, produced under their auspices so they are the manufacturer of record under the law. So, if special interest groups complete with cadres of attorneys claiming NRDC is exempt and who don’t understand the law or understand they are similarly held to it, it smacks of arrogance for them to presume they can hold us accountable. Legions of you are in a similar position yet you don’t have the luxury of exemption as the NRDC claims to have. I suppose if you had lobbied for the law and helped write it as they did, you could have an exemption too. They shouldn’t get away with this. I calculated the cost of testing for this item to be at least $550. How much do you want to bet those snap sets don’t pass? I tried telling this NRDC spokesperson they must also comply but they still don’t get it.

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