Exemption Aims to Exclude Youth ATVs from Lead Law

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — An exemption clause pushed by two Montana lawmakers to exclude youth all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles is a step away from being added to an anti-lead law aimed at toys and other products for children 12 and under.

The Independent Record reported Thursday that a bill to amend the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed 421-2 in the U.S. House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate.

That means businesses that sell or make youth all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles won’t be required to put the products through expensive testing that some manufacturers say would put them out of business.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, both of Montana, introduced the legislation in their respective chambers.

The bill passed Aug. 1 needs President Barack Obama’s signature before becoming law.

“Often the bipartisan stuff gets overlooked amid the drama of other issues, and that should never diminish the importance of bills like the dirt-bike bill,” Tester said.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was aimed at toys but, because it included products for children under 12, also targeted youth ATVs and motorcycles that have lead battery cables and other parts made of lead.

“You get a smirk on your face and you say ‘this is government at its worst; it’s where common sense has been lost,'” Rehberg said. “You think children are going to chew on their valve stems or battery cables? That’s where it becomes ridiculous.”

Youth models have not sold as well as expected, said Paul Vitrano, general counsel of the Motorcycle Industry Council. He said there are safety ramifications for children who get on adult-sized machines.

“We know from the experience of ATVs, over 90 percent of kids that are injured or killed are riding an adult vehicle,” Vitrano said. “We want kids to learn to ride these vehicles through a safety course and to ride a vehicle that fits their size.”

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