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How the Federal Government Made Quilt Sales a Crime, UPDATED

Written By : Duane Lester
January 9, 2009

In 2007, it seemed that every toy that came out of China was covered in lead based paint.  There were other concerns, like the pet food they exported made with deadly chemicals.  That was devastating to some pet owners.

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In response to this, Congress swiftly leapt into action and passed the “Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.”  The act required manufacturers to obtain an certificate showing the products were tested for hazardous materials prior to sale. 

Sounds reasonable, right?  Here’s the rub.

The tests cost between $500 to $4000.  And it applies to “…not just toys, but clothing, jewelry, blankets, sheets, books, bibs, strollers, carriers, and anything else that a child younger than 12 might come in contact with.”

And it applies to micro-businesses that make organic, home made products in America, like your Grannie who makes a quilt for the church bazaar.

 

Two years ago, I built a set of bunk beds for my two oldest children.  I bought everything at the local hardware store and put it together in my Dad’s woodshop.  A year ago, I built a toddler bed for my 3 year old.  This year, my woodworking project was a dollhouse. 

If I were to try to sell any of these under this act, I would have to pay $500 to $4000 to get a certificate saying they were safe. 

How will this affect the little guy selling things on Ebay?  He or she is finished:

And all the products sold on eBay or Craigslist will also require such certificates of compliance or they will be breaking the law. Also affected: millions of charities, which will no longer be able to accept donations without a certificate of compliance. And this certificate can only be obtained through expensive testing by an SCPC-accredited laboratory.” Without such certificates, billions of dollars worth of uncertified children’s products will have to be destroyed because they can’t be legally sold without an CPSI-certificate of compliance, and this will cause major environmental problems,” said Massachusetts campaigner Kiki Fluhr.

This Act has no Grandfather rule, so products made before it is enacted are not exempt from the rule, meaning tons of products may just be tossed in the garbage rather than tested and sold:

She says the new law will turn micro-businesses like hers into illegal manufacturers of “hazardous substances’ overnight. Kuhr says that ‘even granny’s home-made quilts sold in the local arts-and-crafts shop won’t be exempt from this new law’. And the pre-existing stock from homecraft-shops also will have to be dumped as ‘contraband’, she said, because the Act is retroactive, and without the required certificate of compliance, all such products will be deemed to contain ‘banned, hazardous substances’ after February 10.

Fluhr says that she has spent the last six months growing her business, ‘working incredibly hard to create a great product. ‘ And while it’s laudable that the new law bans lead and phthalates (a chemical used in some vinyl products) from all children’s toys, apparel, decor, and accessories, it’s a disaster for micro-businesses like hers.

She works with organic materials — and traditional handcrafters like her are very conscious of the safety of their products. However they can’t afford to have each product tested at the cost of $4,000 per item to get their certificates of compliance. So they will not only be forced out of business, but their pre-existing stock will be outlawed.

This is the result of Congress acting swiftly to solve a problem.  While attempting to do the right thing politically, they threaten to bankrupt millions of American businesses.  And how do you think this is going to impact the cost of toys overall?  As I have said before, businesses don’t pay taxes.  The same rule applies here.  Businesses won’t pay for these tests.  You will.  Expect the price of Barbie to rise.

Obama is warning us, urging swift action from Congress on a $800 billion stimulus package he says will save the economy from certain doom.  Look at the havoc they created here, and ask yourself if this is something we need them rushing through.  You know it isn’t.

There is still time to protest the act before it becomes law.  You have until January 20.  E-mail the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Office of the Secretary at Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov, fax them to (301) 504-0127 or snail mail to

The Office of the Secretary,

Consumer Product Safety Commission,

Room 502, 4330 East-West Highway,

Bethesda, Maryland 20814 US.

You better e-mail, seeing as it is so close to the deadline.

Update

After I posted this, I found this article from the L.A. Times:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has given preliminary approval to changes in new lead-testing rules after complaints that the measures could have forced thrift stores and sellers of handmade toys to dispose of merchandise or even go out of business.

The commission’s two members (a third seat is vacant) voted tentatively to exempt:

  • Items with lead parts that a child cannot access;
  • Clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as cotton and wood; and
  • Electronics that are impossible to make without lead.

The commission also tentatively approved a rule that clarifies how it determines exclusions from the law.

The vote opens up a 30-day public comment period that will begin when notice of the rules are printed in the Federal Register. Interested parties can find out how to submit comments by signing up to receive e-mail from the CPSC at www.cpsc.gov .

No final rules will be approved until after Feb. 10, when the testing rules go into effect.

It’s important to note that this would not have happened if American citizens were not diligent in watching what Congress was doing. It’s also important to note that the change to the bill is still up in the air, so don’t be afraid to send an e-mail. They could still change their minds and enact it as written.

This is cross posted from All American Blogger, where you can find other great original articles. Sign up for our free RSS feed so you don’t miss a single post. Don’t understand RSS? Learn about it here.

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