Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Senate Passes CPSC Reform Act

As a result of the record number of toy recalls in 2007, the Senate passed the CPSC Reform Act (S.2663 at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c110:1:./temp/~c1105ZnORY:e1284:) with a vote of 79-13 on Thursday. Included in the bill are the following:

Add 500 people to the CPSC work staff (currently 400) by 2013

Hire 50 people to be at US ports of entry or to inspect overseas production facilities

Increase the CPSC budget by $450 million over the next four years

Create a public database of reported deaths, injuries and illness and require the reports to be added to the database within 15 days but the CPSC has the discretion to remove reports if they are found to be incorrect. The White House is concerned this “will result in a significant increase in wasteful litigation” and place “significant, unnecessary burdens” on the agency.

Create testing of toys by third parties

Require manufacturers to create a tracking label on the product or package

Reduce the level of lead to .03 percent in one year and further to .01 percent in three years. (Note surfaces not exposed to children under normal use are not subject to these lead limits).

Prohibit the sale of recalled products (currently the recalls are “voluntary”)

Increase civil penalties to a maximum of $20 million and criminal penalties of up to five years

Give state attorney generals the power to pursue product safety cases – this concerns the White House because they believe it could lead to a confusing safety standards

The Senate bill will still have to be reconciled with the earlier House bill before becoming law.