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More CPSIA Insanity

Monday, March 9, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Two weeks agoI interviewed Snell & Wilmer’s Gary Wolensky about the absurd and devastating impacts of the 2008 Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act on numerous industries including ATVs, childrens’ clothing and sporting goods. Since then other media outlets have begun to catch up to the story, and yesterday the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a breakthrough by getting one of the law’s key sponsors, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar to admit that the law was not working out as it had been intended:

The bill’s sponsors, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, are equally adamant that such an absolute interpretation was not what they intended in the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

“Their hands are not tied,” Klobuchar said. “We gave the commission the power to implement common-sense rules. Congress never intended it to be interpreted this way.

“We never thought children were going to be sucking on brake handles.”

Too bad for manufacturers, retailers and consumers that the Congress did –surprise– a lousy job in drafting the draconian law. Unfortunately, the law also empowers plaintiffs’ lawyers to sue non-compliant companies, so Senator Klobuchar’s protestations of innocence do nothing for those thousands of businesses seeing hundreds of millions of dollars of superb product go to waste.

The Strib unfortunately failed to ask the obvious question of Klobuchar and Senator Jay Rockefeller –also quoted in the piece: “Why not fix the law right now to exempt all product in the pipeline for another12 to 24 months?” Such a revision could be attached to the appropriations bill moving through the Congress just as various special provisions striking at property rights and upping the reach of the polar bear “threatened species” listing are being stapled on.

As I have noted before, CPSIA was a very simple law and the Democratic Congress managed to so mangle it as to cause a billion dollars in unintended damages. Imagine what the Democratic Congress will do when it takes up the infinitely more complicated issue of health care “reform.”

I will have Wolensky back on later in the week for an update on the effort to get Congress to repair the damage that Congress has done. Send you CPSIA questions to him via gwolensky@swlaw.com.

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