Proposed legislation titled the Consumer Product Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 (CPSEA), which is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), is currently being debated in the House of Representatives. The CPSEA, if passed, would amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and Consumer Product Safety Act. The draft legislation has garnered mixed reactions, including from the CPSC.
Waxman introduced the CPSEA on March 11. The 20 page bill would give the CPSC more flexibility in creating exceptions to lead limits for certain consumer products. The CPSEA would also provide some relief from the strict requirements for small businesses, thrift stores, and small-batch manufacturers.
On April 29, 2010, the CPSEA was debated at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. As part of the record, Nancy Nord, CPSC Commissioner, submitted comments on the CPSEA. Nord acknowledged that although “the language of the CPSIA is drafted so tightly” that exclusions to the lead limits “is not workable,” the draft CPSEA exception language “has serious problems that should be addressed before final legislation is enacted.” Nord went on to say the exception language of the draft bill is “subjective, will favor large companies who can better afford the extensive and expensive process, and will be resource intensive for the agency to administer, with little true safety progress to be gained.”
According to Publishers Weekly, a focus of the April 29 hearings was on the possibility of exempting children’s products that contain lead where the lead is considered either inaccessible or necessary. The hearing did not, however, address one industry’s concerns – book publishers – that ordinary children’s books should be exempted from all lead requirements.
There have been previous efforts to amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and Consumer Product Safety Act in order to add more flexibility. However, all attempts have been unsuccessful to date.
Valerie Paula is an Associate in the Regulatory Affairs Department at Dorsey & Whitney, LLC. Please see our web site at www.dorsey.com.