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Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

The need to be precise with language, or how the CPSIA could make my job search expensive

It seems somehow today has been declared CPSIA Blog-in Day, and with all the hubbub about this legislation coming into effect on Feburary 10 it seems appropriate to mention it here.

For those who have managed to stay away from the Internet, a quick recap: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008(govtrack.us) was passed in response to a lead paint scare from Chinese-manufactured toys. It bans lead and phthalates above certain concentrations, imposes criminal penalties including felony prison time and fines, and requires testing of products intended for children under the age of 12. The requirement is retroactive and prohibits even giving away items produced prior to enactment for free.

Sounds laudible, after all protecting children is Job #1 for lawmakers. However, there would not be quite as much of a ruckus about the CPSIA if there weren’t problems with the way it achieves its goals. According to the Act, nearly anything intended for children under the age of 12 is subject to the Act which includes items such as clothes, toys, office supplies, computers, medical devices, car seats, books – you can see where this is going. Children consume a ton of items in the American economy that many people may not immediately perceive as being intended for children under the age of 12. All of those paper clips, reams of paper, ink cartridges, and even my computer that I use to pump out resumes and type this post on could potentially be subject to the Act.

So, perhaps the items subject to the Act seem a little broad but testing them for safety shouldn’t be hard right? Apparently the rest of us have been caught off guard again as the Act requires testing of product lots, even if the individual components themselves could be tested. A recent article on Forbes.com states that testing for a telescope was estimated to be around $24,000 for a product that grosses only $32,000 in sales a year. Also in the same article, articles of clothing must be retested in each size and if so much as a single snap is added. Others have chimed in exactly how far this Act can possibly apply including second hand shops and custom manufacturing operations.

It’s unclear whether there’s much that can be done before the Feburary enforcement date although many are trying desparately to pursuade Congress to act.

Normally I am not a fan of Lou Dobbs – his abrasive style does chafe against my more conciliatory and consensus-building tendencies. However, he has been pushing home a point during the last several weeks: does anyone actually read entire bills and think about the larger consequences anymore in Congress?

[for more, see Overlawyered’s treatment]

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Written by Vincent Kan

January 28, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Legislation

Tagged with