Friday, January 30, 2009

Proposed Stay of Enforcement from CPSC

Proposed Stay of Enforcement of Testing and Certification Requirements

I'm not convinced that this does anything more than the previous 'clarification' that says resellers can sell items but they are still responsible for selling products that exceed the lead limit. This stay just puts manufacturers in the same boat. Back to innocent until proven guilty but doesn't really change the law. It does give manufacturers additional time to request exemptions and obtain GCC's so it helps the small crafters a lot - but only temporarily. Over at Etsy, they are all doing a happy dance thinking it is business as usual. They need to realize that it is nothing of the sort.

We still need Jim DeMint (senator from South Carolina - one of 3 to vote against CPSIA) to get his reforms through. In it, he starts off by requesting a six-month stay of the regulations, not just the testing. Jim DeMint's CPSIA Reform Letter

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1/28 Letter to CPSC

Letter From NAM to CPSC requesting delay in implementing CPSIA

Here's an idea

If we choose to buy that unlabeled cookie at the local bake sale, is that illegal? Or is that within our scope of free choice? How about the bowl of popcorn at the bar? I would not take a handful given that I do not know what is in them nor whose hands have touched them. But I don't deny others the right to do so nor is that illegal. So let's look at children's products the way we look at food products. After all, those fat, sugar and calorie laden kids foods aren't illegal. It's just that one look at the ingredient label and many people don't buy them.

First of all, let's set a reasonable age - items for children under 3 is good and is the accepted age cutoff for choking hazard warnings so why not this? Why 12 and under when the sole reason for doing so is just because those children are likely to have younger siblings? Secondly, allow common sense component testing. Then just mandate that all these items must be labeled with an 'ingredient-like' label listing the lead and phthalate levels or a label with a warning that these levels are unknown. We use food labels to determine what products we choose to eat and to offer to our children - do the same thing here. Empower us with good information on which to base our decisions. The free market will determine the success of items that are labeled with unacceptable or unknown levels.

Rather than a pass/fail type of system, a quantifiable number can be used. By identifitying the amount of the substance, it will allow for future changes in determining an acceptable level. Under the current requirements, when the lead limit falls to 300 ppm, a product deemed 'safe' under the 600 ppm law will then be 'unsafe'. Then when other substances need to be tracked they can simply be added to that 'ingredient' label. Some parents may want to choose to only buy products that are less than 100 ppm now and they should be enabled to make that decision now.

I see parents handing their children donuts and cookies to eat and heading straight for McDonalds for french fries. Do I approve? No. Would I do that with my kids? No. Do I believe in their right to make that decision? Yes. Because many decisions are not that simple and government cannot dictate at that level, even if we all agreed. In Illinois I can legally put my child on a motorcycle without a helmet. A parent can take their child to a monster truck show and risk a part being propelled through the air and killing that child. A parent can get a pet Rottweiler who ultimately turns vicious and kills the child. A parent can give their child a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and that child can die from salmonella poisoning. A parent can give their child a taco and the child can die from bacteria in the tomatoes - oops I mean the lettuce. And therein lies my point. No one can provide 100% safety for themselves or their children. The best we can do is get good information and improve the odds. And it is up to each of us to determine the level of risk that we are willing to take. I admire those that actively seek out safer foods, cleaning products, beauty products, medicines and drugs. I am trying to become more aware and make better choices. It is my right to choose to do that or to not do that. And if I choose to buy that unlabeled cookie at the bake sale or the unlabeled hair bow for my child's hair, I strongly believe that is my choice to make. All I ask is for the information to be available to make an intelligent decision. And if it is not made available, it remains my choice whether or not to purchase the product.

So what is unworkable about this idea? Seems fair to me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Ray of Hope

Congressman Joe Barton / Congressman George Radanovich letter urging Henry Waxman to conduct a hearing on CPSIA immediately with the intention to delay the enforcement of CPSIA due to it's devastating effects on small business.

Letter to Henry Waxman

I want nothing more than to find reasons for optimism but I do have some concerns about their request. They talk of common sense and obvious issues - if anything was obvious in this matter or if common sense was going to prevail, this never would have gotten this far. They say there "should be no disagreement on this small matter". Small matter? This is huge. They go on to request "simply delaying the imposition of pending CPSC action" to work our way through the issues. There is definitely nothing simple about delaying any action. Again, the finger is being pointed at the CPSC to solve this crisis, this time by asking for their inaction on this new law. Many businesses have already changed their entire practices based on this law and some have already gone out of business because they couldn't. The monster has been unleased and already the victims are piling up. Only drastic, almost inconceivable action can cage this monster. But I will wait with bated breath while this unfolds and hope for some kind of rescue.

From Fashion-Incubator

Another must-read article: Don't Throw Yourself under the CPSIA bus

Excerpt: "Even more outrageous, unnamed staffers are reported to have stated that no hearing would occur until an additional CPSC Commissioner was appointed, and that CPSC would be “unable” to appear at any earlier hearing. In other words, they have no intention of holding hearings in advance of the February 10 implementation date, despite the reams of data they possess on the many serious problems their law is causing. Actually, it is my understanding that the CPSC has requested such a hearing, but that request apparently fell on deaf ears. Spin, spin, spin - and then tell everyone that all discordant views are misinformation or the confusion of [fill-in-the-blank] people. Finally, to cap it off, we understand that House staffers are simply “too busy” to attend meetings with industry and the CPSC to discuss the details of the real life impact of the law." quote from Rick Woldenberg - link to original article

Friday, January 16, 2009

Congress Reacts

From the Committee on Energy and Commerce official website: "Chairmen Henry A. Waxman and Bobby L. Rush, together with Senator John D. Rockefeller, incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Senator Mark L. Pryor, sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission expressing concerns about implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The letter highlighted four issues of particular concern and urged the Commission to take swift action to address critical issues of implementation."

WARNING WARNING The letter below is filled with back pedaling and passing the buck. Blames implementation of the law rather than poorly written legislation. The letter is written as though the CPSC can change the law. In my opinion the law IS being interpreted as it is written. Congress will not in any way retreat from their position that the law is fine and that it is up to the CPSC to 'interpret' in any way they like. By interpret, they mean entirely change the meaning of the actual words.

Read Letter

Keep in mind that these guys are only technically asking the CPSC to consider these recommendations. Even if these new 'interpretations' stand, the effects of this law remain devastating. But here they are:

1) Ordinary books that do not have any components other than normal paper and ink should not require testing. Yay! Libraries can stay open!
Clothing that is dyed or undyed should be considered for an exemption from testing if it contains no painted, plastic or metal components. That leaves what - tshirts? Clothing with unpainted wooden buttons? Dresses with fabric ties?
2) Neither retailers nor resellers like thrift and consignment shops need to test existing inventory but, as usual, still need to meet the new lead limits. So resale is not getting different treatment than any other retailer. This is big news for all retailers. Now they too just need a 'level of confidence' to be able to conduct business. Until they get caught selling anything that does not meet the law.
3) Ask the CPSC to consider component testing. This is a big one for home crafters. At least they wouldn't have to test the final products. Many components that they currently use, however, won't meet the new limits. Certainly not by February 10.
4) Ask the CPSC to give more guidance to small business. chuckle, chuckle

Oh, and they asked the CPSC to do all this by February 10, when the law goes into effect. You might say they're telling them 'to get the lead out'. I don't blame Julie Vallese of the CPSC for resigning. I would, too.

Rick Woldenberg's Response

The effects of CPSIA on children's products in 2009

Ten Predictions

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Must See TV

Raw Video Feed Julie Vallese CPSC Spokesperson

Watch Julie as she talks in endless circles without ever really answering a question, all the while looking down her nose at all the poor unfortunate folks who just can't understand the things that she can. She doesn't even mention that this legislation specifically addresses lead in children's products until pressed by the interviewer. I was reassured to hear that CPSIA contains "very specific and new definitions on regulating products with lead". Gee, I wonder where they hid those specific definitions. Also that all I have to do as a reseller is to "simply need to make a business decision at a level of confidence that the products they are selling meets the law". She goes on to say that I can choose how to do this any way I like, including just looking at something and making an "informed decision." At the end of the day though, she kindly reminds me that I must still follow the law. Clear as mud.

And if you don't have the stomach to watch 7 minutes of government speak, here's a good review (by Mark of Rescue Marketing) of this so-called interview.

CPSC’s Vallese interview review re: CPSIA

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why the uproar began in January

Toy Industry Approach

Wow, this certainly answers a few questions I had about how we got to this point. The large manufacturers and retailers were intentionally keeping this quiet so they wouldn't jeopardize their Christmas sales. Explains why all the uproar began in January. Now their efforts are to push the whole thing back to buy themselves some time. Meanwhile, all the bad press about the hazards of shopping resale are being published. So the environment filled with uncertainty may hurt their sales during months when they don't have much in sales anyway and they have the coffers to wait it out. Meanwhile many small businesses will go out of business trying to define their current business or restructure it.

So the large toy manufacturers and retailers will benefit from the groundswell of support from the public intended to support the small businesses so adversely affected by this including not only resale but the countless small and micro businesses that create unique, handmade items for children. For example many Native American craft businesses create countless culturally-inspired items for children that carry on their culture. These will now be required to undergo the same expensive testing as the made in China plastic toy in your McDonalds Happy Meal. Guess what - they can't afford to do that so will just have to quit selling them.

I found it so perplexing why I heard nothing about this between August (when it became law) and January (a month before it takes effect). Mystery solved.


For those of you who thought it couldn't possibly apply to books:

Link to CPSC response regarding childrens books

It reiterates that CPSIA does indeed apply to books intended for children 12 and under.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Government Response to FMR

I'd like to report on my results from writing to my government representatives. Dick Durbin replied with a generic letter patting himself on the back for this legislation. Judy Biggert has not replied. When I spoke with a live person in her office he said snottily, "What do you want HER to do??" Naperville city manager's office - "I don't know anything about this and can't help you" Rod Blagojevich - ok, so I didn't bother. Barack Obama is a litte preoccupied with his new job and his replacement hasn't yet been seated in the Senate. All this from a state that allows these same kids to ride on school buses with no seat belts and even a motorcycle with no helmet.

CPSC Press release regarding resale

This is NOT a ruling, exemption or exception to the CPSIA... it is nothing more than a Press Release. All it really says is that resale and consignment shops do not have to provide proof that the items they sell meet the new standard. It does NOT relieve us of any liability / fines / jail time for violations of the law.

February 10, 2009


What this means is that all existing children's items including clothing, toys, books and all types of equipment essentially cannot be resold if they do not meet the new lead and phthalate standards. Not by consignment stores. Not by charitable organizations. Not on Craigslist. Not on Ebay. Not at your garage sale. Violations are punishable by stiff fines and jail time.
In addition, expensive testing standards for all products intended for children under 13 years old will effectively shut down many home based / crafting businesses.

The law

Here is a link to the actual text of this legislation.