(also sent to James McGovern, MA, Bobby Rush, IL, and Edward Markey, MA, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House)
Subject: CPSIA, A View from the Field
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com., firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Brian_hendricks@hutchison.senate.gov, email@example.com
Dear Ms. Bailey:
I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me a couple of weeks ago with my Congressman (James McGovern) regarding the CPSIA.
I want to let you and your colleagues know a little bit more about who I am and what is happening in our movement. I am an importer, primarily of children's natural toys. I also manufacture 2 items here in Massachusetts. I am concerned about what this law means to my business, and to the future product availability in general for the children of this nation now and in the future. I am likewise concerned about what it means to the future of free-enterprise, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit of this country going into the future.
Rather than simply sign a petition, or write one blog post, I felt the stakes were too high and I had to do more. I do maintain a blog, which has been devoted to this subject for over a month now (http://challengeandfun.typepad.com/my_weblog/). I am not alone. I am among many other activists that are working around the clock due to the urgency and importance of this matter. I have created a networking site as a central place for various groups, businesses, consumers, etc., to gather and voice their concerns. You are all invited, and welcome to join, make comments, and contribute (http://www.cpsia-central.ning.com). This is but one, among many, forums for discussion and action on this issue.
If you venture into our fully public website and view the member profiles, you will see example after example of work at home mom's, enterprising retailers, innovative manufacturers, and more, from across the country. If you read their comments you will get a sense for the utter frustration that is being felt across this nation at the legislation that is needlessly threatening not only our livelihoods, but our very culture. This is but a small representation of the tens of thousands of businesses in many different areas of the children's products industry that is impacted by this law, not to mention the hundreds of millions of consumers that will be hurt by lack of choice and higher prices.
You probably have seen an up-tick in the news stories that are coming out. This story is all over the internet on the blogs, reaching those that most count on natural, and innovative children's products. It has been featured in regional papers, and local TV news. It was featured in the Washington Post last week, and all over the AP wires since then. We fully expect the main stream news media in the coming days and weeks. We have a story to tell, and we are telling with passionately, as if our lives depended on it. Because our lives, and quality of life do depend on massive changes to this law. I know that you are all in positions that could be considered "pressure cookers". I recognize that. I know that public opinion matters when it comes to policy change. We, as a movement, are doing our best to ensure you have the cover of public opinion to make these changes. We will do our best to educate the public about the shortcomings of the law as it stands now, and do our best to vocalize the public to help you make those changes. But to the extent that we fall short, in the short term. We ask that you stand up and take a leadership role in amending this law to avoid an even bigger public outcry when companies large and small start falling like dominoes in February.
I also want to let you know that we are encouraged by the movement we are seeing within the government to make changes to the law to accommodate smaller suppliers, particularly as the CPSC is considering exemptions for certain natural materials, and if I am not mistaken, for small businesses too.
We would like to encourage the government to follow-through and approve such measures, but we want you to know that this will, by itself, be enough to save the vast majority of children's products businesses in this country (retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers of all shapes & sizes). Here are but a few concerns that we would like to share with you.
1. While natural materials such as wood and cotton may be exempted, this does not help those that actually want color in their products. Certainly the government should consider broad exemptions for coloring that is deemed to be safe, and inherently lead free. Some examples would be those that stain their wood with water based paints, beeswax, etc. or who dye their cotton with dyes that are already certified to standards that are even higher than the CPSIA (such as, but not limited to, "oeko-tex" and/or other standards accepted in the the organic cotton industry). These are but a few examples. Additionally, there are many other materials that do not inherently contain lead, or which do not generally have soluble lead which should be considered for exemption.
2. We need your help to avoid the chaos that will soon be upon us in dealing with existing inventory (when I refer to "us" I mean the children's products industry in general) and the massive & extraordinarily expensive testing that is being required on this inventory.
3. Batches, labelling & testing frequency: What is a batch? How is it defined? How do we, as small companies, deal with the cost and administration of tracking batches, without incurring undue costs that make it no longer worthwhile to produce or import children's products. How frequently do we need to test? Do I, as a small importer, need to test each and every small shipment coming into this country?
4. Administration & legalities: Large companies can afford expensive lawyers to try to understand this highly complex law. Small companies will either give up, or simply ignore the law (which I do not think is the intended result). Administration costs also threaten to make the cost of supplying products into this industry unreasonably expensive.
5. We agree that the CPSC should consider the component (input) testing over unit testing which would alleviate the problem for many companies. We will send in our comments regarding this issue to the CPSC shortly.
Please rest assured that we are not talking about lowering the lead standards, or the inherent safety of children's products. We are committed to the safety of our products, we simply want an economic way to continue to bring already SAFE products to the market.
We ask for your prompt action to make changes to this law so that our industry can have some semblance of certainty again. We are entering a new year. With a new year come new catalogs. Ours should be at the printers by now. We haven't even started. With the new year comes trade shows (Toy Fair, Gift Fair, "Magic"--for the Apparel industry, along with countless baby shows, and more). Will attendees show up? Will there be any exhibitors, or products to exhibit? Time is of the essence. We ask for your expeditious attention to these matters.
Director of Marketing
Challenge & Fun, Inc.