Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act

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The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act (H.R.4040) was a package of legislation to reform the nation's consumer safety laws. The bill was introduced following a series of safety-related incidents in 2006, including the recall of millions of toys manufactured in China, consumer groups and lawmakers began calling for greater regulation and accountability. The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act was written to address those issues.


Article summary (how summaries work)

The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act is a bill to "to expand the size, authority, and responsibilities of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and to establish new consumer product safety standards."[1]

The legislation includes new regulations to:

  • Mandate that children's products be tested by a third party laboratory to ensure that they meet safety standards
  • Ban children's products containing more than trace amounts of lead, defined as 0.03 percent by weight
  • Prohibit the use of some phthalates, a plastic softener, in children’s products
  • Require safety standards on all-terrain vehicles[1]

In addition, the legislation provides for broad new powers for the CPSC and enhanced whistle-blower protections. It expands the size of the CPSC, provides more funding for enforcement, and gives state attorneys general the ability to sue on behalf of consumers:

  • Raises the Consumer Product Safety Commission's budget each year until 2015, at which time the agency's budget would be $156 million
  • Increases the number of full-time personnel employed at the Consumer Product Safety Commission to at least 500 by 2013
  • Requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a searchable database featuring reports of safety hazards presented by consumer products
  • Raises maximum civil penalties for consumer product safety violations
  • Allows state attorneys general to take civil action against parties whose violation of consumer safety standards has affected the residents of their states (Sec. 20).
  • Provides legal protection for employees who provide information relating to consumer safety standard violations to the government, testify in court about such violations, or refuse to participate in activities that they reasonably believe to be in violation of regulations enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (Sec. 21).
  • Require every importer, retailer, or distributor of a product to identify the manufacturer of the product upon the request of an officer or designated employee of the Consumer Product Safety Commission[1]


Contents

Current status

The House and Senate have approved a conference report on the legislation, and it has been sent to President Bush for his signature.[2]

Key votes

Initial passage

The House passed its version of the bill on December 19, 2007 by the overwhelming margin of 407-0.



The Senate later amended that bill and passed its version on March 6, 2008 by a vote of 79-13, sending the bill into conference.


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: Americans for Democratic Action 2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Passage of a bill to overhaul the Consumer Product Safety Commission, strengthen toy safety standards, and authorize $88.5 million for the Commission in fiscal 2009, to be increased by 10 percent every year through 2015. It would increase civil penalties imposed on companies for manufacturing faulty products, create a public database of consumer safety incidents, and permit state attorneys general to get injunctions on behalf of residents to enforce product safety laws."

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.adaction.org/pages/publications/voting-records.php)

Scored vote

Scorecard: National Journal 2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Pass a bill overhauling the Consumer Product Safety Commission and setting tougher consumer product safety rules. March 6."

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/cs_20090228_4813.php)

Conference

The House and Senate approved the conference report in late July 2008.


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: Drum Major Institute 2008 House Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Although the CPSC is responsible for protecting consumers from more than 15,000 types of consumer products, an anemic budget and staff shortages have increasingly put Americans at risk, as demonstrated by a record-setting 448 recalls of unsafe products in 2007. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act responds vigorously to the dangers that middle-class consumers increasingly confront at stores and in their own homes. By providing the CPSC with additional funding through 2014, more staff, and easier rulemaking options, the legislation helps ensure that inspectors have the resources to safeguard consumers. Empowering state attorneys general to file suit when they believe that residents of a state have been adversely affected by a violation of a consumer product safety rule creates an additional layer of consumer protection. Independent third-party testing of children’s products ends the current insidious practice of manufacturers certifying the safety of their own goods. The ban on lead and phthalates in children’s products will benefit parents who would otherwise be unable to determine if a toy is safe. Whistleblower protections will encourage vigilant industry employees to report negligence"

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/library/report.php?ID=63)


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: Drum Major Institute 2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Although the CPSC is responsible for protecting consumers from more than 15,000 types of consumer products, an anemic budget and staff shortages have increasingly put Americans at risk, as demonstrated by a record-setting 448 recalls of unsafe products in 2007. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act responds vigorously to the dangers that middle-class consumers increasingly confront at stores and in their own homes. By providing the CPSC with additional funding through 2014, more staff, and easier rulemaking options, the legislation helps ensure that inspectors have the resources to safeguard consumers. Empowering state attorneys general to file suit when they believe that residents of a state have been adversely affected by a violation of a consumer product safety rule creates an additional layer of consumer protection. Independent third-party testing of children’s products ends the current insidious practice of manufacturers certifying the safety of their own goods. The ban on lead and phthalates in children’s products will benefit parents who would otherwise be unable to determine if a toy is safe. Whistleblower protections will encourage vigilant industry employees to report negligence."

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/library/report.php?ID=87)

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Key Vote: Consumer Product Safety Commission Bill", Project Vote Smart, retrieved August 1, 2008
  2. OpenCongress’ info page on Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act (H.R.4040.

External resources

External articles

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