WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN)—Senator Mark Pryor’s bill, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2007, jumped its first hurdle this week by passing a Senate Commerce Committee vote.
“In the last two months alone, approximately 2 million toys were recalled for violating lead paint standards, and more than 5 million toys were recalled for containing magnets that come loose and create an ingestion hazard. The recalls were not limited to toys. Candles, all-terrain vehicles, cribs, bunk beds, space heaters, clothes, knives, scuba masks, radios, lamps and electronic equipment were also recalled,” said senator Daniel Inouye, a co-sponsor of the bill, earlier this month as he pressed for its passage.
Given this flurry of recalls, including this week's CPSC recall of Halloween candy pails contaminated with lead paint and a voluntary recall of lead contaminated Halloween cosmetic teeth called, Ugly Teeth, Federal legislators are under pressure to protect consumers, especially children, from harmful consumer products.
Pryor’s bill, Senate bill 2045, is a reauthorization bill set to improve consumer safety through stronger consumer protection laws, increased authority and increased authorization levels. As it currently stands the Act also bans the use of lead in children’s products and establishes a maximum level trace amount of lead allowed in such products.
Last year 21 bicycle suppliers were charged with violating California’s Proposition 65, a law limiting the amount of lead consumer products can contain. And Section 21 of the Act seeks to give state attorneys generals increased authority to prosecute violations of Federal Consumer Product Safety Act.
The Act also increases the maximum per violation civil penalty from $8,000 to $250,000 and the maximum civil penalty for a related series of violations from $1.825 million to $100 million. Second, the Act strikes the requirement that violators of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) may only be criminally prosecuted after repeated warnings. It also makes a knowing violation of the CPSA punishable by up to a year imprisonment and a knowing and willful violation punishable by up to a five year imprisonment.
The CPSC Reform Act has a long way to go in the legislative process. It is strongly opposed by the Bush administration and CPSC’s acting chairwoman Nancy Nord, who is under pressure to resign in the wake of recent recalls.