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The high-stakes debt ceiling debate and votes may have stolen all of the media attention this week, but another very critical piece of legislation: a revision of the burdensome, flawed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which called for costly environmental testing and safety certification of children's books and other printed materials.
On Monday, August 1st the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2715) by an overwhelming vote of 421-2 to amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). (The two recorded "Nay" votes were Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH; 9 Reps were recorded as "Not Voting.") The bill not only provides much needed added flexibility and discretion to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to implement this law, it also excludes children's books and paper-based printed materials from onerous third-party testing and certification requirements now in place for any and all products marketed to children under 12 years of age. The Senate followed suit that night and passed the House bill by voice vote, clearing the way for President Obama's signature. The President is expected to sign H.R. 2715 into law in short order.
This is a big win for the industry! While all children's manufactured products received a measure of general relief from CPSIA, "ordinary books" (see legislative definition below) and "paper-based printed materials" were only one of two product categories to gain a FULL exclusion from the environmental and consumer regulation. (Youth ATV/bicycles was the other category.) We've spent two years before the Consumer Product Safety Commission and in the halls of Congress providing environmental data, explaining print manufacturing processes, and urging lawmakers to take action to exempt what we considered an unintentional consequence of the original law passed in 2008. Prior to the votes, Printing Industries issued a Key Vote Alert to all lawmakers.
Even if your company does not print books or paper-based materials for the "12 years of age & under" market, the fact that books and paper-based printed materials were being regulated by yet another entity and had its environmental stewardship once again called into question - this time regarding the use of heavy metals. Achieving a total exclusion for books and paper-based printed materials from this massive environmental and consumer regulation goes a long way to reminding lawmakers that the printing & graphic communications industry's products are sustainable, safe and leading edge when it comes to environmentally-sound manufacturing.
Printing Industries of America extends a thank you to member companies who worked tirelessly alongside our Washington, DC team to advocate the industry's position on Capitol Hill. We also extend a special thank you to our Congressional champions, bill sponsors Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Senator MarkPryor (D-AR) and leadership and members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee. Additionally, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) had offered stand-alone legislation to exempt books from CPSIA. If your lawmakers are among this group of champions, please be sure to send an e-mail or letter thanking him or her for taking action on this important issue and arriving at a common-sense, bipartisan compromise to remove books from the regulatory morass that has been CPSIA.
Also, please note that this was a rare moment of true bipartisanship! Therefore, ALL Printing Industries of America companies should take a moment so send a note of thanks to lawmakers for supporting our industry. Remember, stating the industry's appreciation for a pro-print, pro-business vote is helpful in building strong constituent relationships with lawmakers. After all, it's always easier to make a more difficult "ask" of your lawmakers when they know you acknowledge the times they do say "Yea" to a pro-print, pro-business issue. (Please note, the automated thank you note targets the House; to send a message to the Senate, you will need to cut and paste the message into the email forms provided. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance if needed.)
As background, the original CPSIA became law in 2008 as a reaction to a spate of incidents of lead-tainted children's products (mostly Chinese imports) being sold to consumers. The law narrowed limits of lead and phthalates allowable in children's products and also called for third-party testing, labeling and tracking systems, and safety certifications. While the original CPSIA was also a very bipartisan bill, it was a "kitchen sink" regulation that ensnared every possible product - furniture, textiles, bicycles, musical instruments, hair barrettes...and books, flash cards, maps, magazines and more - in addition to the original culprit: toys.
Many unintended consequences and market confusion occurred as the Consumer Product Safety Commission tried to implement the law causing CPSC to issue two one-year stays of implementation. CPSC called upon Congress to amend CPSIA to provide the Commission more discretion to apply the regulations and exempt products; CPSC also singled out particular product categories (including books) that were likely unintentionally regulated and could be excluded from the law. In heeding the call for more practical application of CPSIA, common-sense prevailed in the regulatory arena.
*Legislative Language (excerpted from H.R. 2715)
EXCLUSION FROM THIRD PARTY TESTING-
CERTAIN PRINTED MATERIALS-
IN GENERAL- The third party testing requirements established under subsection (a) shall not apply to ordinary books or ordinary paper-based printed materials.
(I) ORDINARY BOOK- The term `ordinary book' means a book printed on paper or cardboard, printed with inks or toners, and bound and finished using a conventional method, and that is intended to be read or has educational value. Such term does not include books with inherent play value, books designed or intended for a child 3 years of age or younger, and does not include any toy or other article that is not a book that is sold or packaged with an ordinary book.
(II) ORDINARY PAPER-BASED PRINTED MATERIALS- The term `ordinary paper-based printed materials' means materials printed on paper or cardboard, such as magazines, posters, greeting cards, and similar products, that are printed with inks or toners and bound and finished using a conventional method.
(III) EXCLUSIONS- Such terms do not include books or printed materials that contain components that are printed on material other than paper or cardboard or contain nonpaper-based components such as metal or plastic parts or accessories that are not part of the binding and finishing materials used in a conventional method.
If you have a question about any of the issues above or other government affairs-related concerns please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or (202) 730-7970.