Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CPSIA - Fantasies of Small Business "Relief" in Waxman Amendment 2.0

I am tired of arguing about whether the new Waxman Amendment features "relief" for small businesses. I have pointed out that the definition of small business in the bill is both absurdly low and represents a super-sensitive trigger for enlarged responsibilities and risk. The notion behind rules protecting small business is that these companies have neither the skills, capital or human resources or the scale to bear the increased burdens and risk of the more sophisticated and demanding rules imposed on big business. These fragile enterprises are supposed to face larger legal responsibilities only when they have grown to be able to handle it (skills, resources, scale).

Can anyone rationally argue that a $1 million business is closer in skill sets, resources and business scale to Mattel and Hasbro than a lemonade stand? Frankly, that's an idiotic suggestion. Idiotic or not, it was all set to become law as part of the Waxman Amendment.

In any event, the Waxman gremlins that crafted the so-called Consumer Product Safety "Enhancement" (snort) Act of 2010 designed the testing "relief" for the little guys as follows:

". . . the Commission shall take into consideration any economic, administrative, or other limits on the ability of small batch manufacturers to comply with such requirements and may, by regulation, provide alternative testing requirements for covered products manufactured by small batch manufacturers in lieu of those required under subsection (a) or (b). Any such alternative requirements shall provide for reasonable testing methods to assure compliance with the relevant consumer product safety standards." [Emphasis added] The legislation goes on to instruct: "The Commission shall work cooperatively with small batch manufacturers . . . using its discretion . . . to impose the least burdensome testing requirements for small batch manufacturers consistent with goals of statute. . . ."

Ummm, what ARE those alternative "reasonable testing methods to assure compliance with the relevant consumer product safety standards"? A recent inquiry to the CPSC reveals that these special alternative testing methods are . . . are . . . are unknown. In fact, they don't exist. Straight from the horse's mouth - THE CPSC SAYS THERE AREN'T ANY ALTERNATIVE TESTING METHODS THAT WILL ASSURE COMPLIANCE.

I guess it's really a shame that the CPSC has nothing to offer the small batch folks. In lieu of these alternative methods, they'll have to just do it the way Mattel does. Maybe each crafter can open up a firewalled safety lab, after they make appropriate financial disclosures to the CPSC to qualify for this "relief". And MORE GOOD NEWS - if other testing methods are ever discovered, this legislation will make it possible for the CPSC to let the little guys use them! Hey, that's SOMETHING, isn't it?!

It's so good to know that Mr. Waxman has heard our pain and stepped right up to help us out.

Thanks for nothing, Henry.

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