Last week the House finally held committee hearings about the badly-written 2007 toy testing law I've covered here, here, and here. In today's Wall Street Journal, Reason contributor Walter Olson reports on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) hearings. The only person permitted to testify was Inez Tenenbaum, the new chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), who offered another year of legal limbo to small toymakers who find compliance onerous or even impossible:
Yielding to a business outcry, the agency postponed until next February the law's highly onerous product-testing requirements, which many small manufacturers have said will impose costs exceeding their annual profit or even revenue. It also has postponed enforcement of the law's effective ban on kids' bikes and power vehicles, which unavoidably contain leaded brass or similar alloys in certain components….
On July 20, only three-and-a-half weeks before the rules were to take effect, the CPSC announced some lenient if vague interpretive guidelines. The agency said it didn't think individual marking was required for very small objects and items in sets, such as wooden blocks, and agreed that harm to a product's functionality or aesthetics might be a possible reason to reject marking as impracticable. So long as handcraft and small-production-run makers keep careful control of components, it seems, they might not even need to set up batch numbering systems.
Postponing enforcement of a stupid law is good. Rewriting it would be better.