CPSIA Lead Law – A Pawn in Partisan Chess Game?

By Beacon Staff

Late Thursday, Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) amendment to the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) came up for a vote in the Senate.

The amendment appeared rather straightforward, yet Montana Senators Tester (D) and Baucus (D) both voted against it. The final tally fell almost entirely along party lines.

It’s difficult to say whether Senator Tester’s vote was against the amendment or was political gamesmanship. The difficulty arises because he had recently gone on record against the CPSIA’s impact on the motorcycle industry and was said to have sponsored a bill in the Senate Commerce Committee to exempt motorcycles

As appearances go, it seems like little more than partisan fiddling while small business Rome burns.

The fact remains that this law continues to decimate small business from coast to coast. Several large national retail chains have reported substantial write-offs in their recent 10-K filings, specifically blaming the CPSIA. The law’s ripple effect reaches well beyond artisans, home-based businesses, secondhand stores, libraries (no, I’m not kidding) and motorcycle shops. It has the potential to affect every small business in the country at least indirectly.

Senator DeMint’s amendment attempted to do the following (quoted from demint.senate.gov):

1) Delay the lead limits 6 months so that the CPSC and the public can address confusion surrounding the implementation.

2) Exempt thrift stores and other second hand sellers: The Goodwill and the Salvation Army have never been a safety problem and in these hard economic times people need access to affordable goods now more than ever.

3) Exempt the sale of books and children’s motorcycles from the CPSIA. Books and bikes have never been a product safety concern (re: lead).

4) Allow manufacturers to show that their products are within the lead limits by showing that all the components of their products are within the lead limit. If lead is not in the component it won’t be in the product. This is a common-sense approach that will save businesses thousands of dollars without compromising the safety of the product.

5) Prevents retroactive enforcement that would require otherwise safe products from having to be destroyed. There are hundreds of millions of dollars of safe products on the shelves and in warehouses today that should be sold. It just doesn’t make sense to force businesses to destroy perfectly good products.