Conference Committee Reports Progress On CPSC Legislation

Congress took a step closer last week to finalizing the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act. The conference committee (including chairs Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)) voted in favor of nine more provisions, further reconciling the different bills that have passed the Senate and House of Representatives. MassTortDefense has posted on the bills here and here.

The lawmakers agreed:
- to ban the export of recalled and nonconforming products, enabling the CPSC to prohibit a U.S. entity from exporting a product out of compliance with CPSC rules unless the importing country has previously notified the Commission of its permission;
- to require certain import safety management and interagency cooperation steps, requiring requires the CPSC to develop a plan to identify shipments of consumer products for import into the U.S.;
- to create a public consumer product safety database and
- to require the public disclosure of certain safety information.

They also adopted provisions to create a substantial product hazard list, mandate the destruction of imported products that don't comply with U.S. laws, require inspectors general to carry out audits and file reports, set new rules on lead paint in children's (12 or under) products and empower state attorneys general to enforce product safety laws.

The CPSC will return to five full members. Both bills (H.R. 4040 and S.2663 would increase funding for the agency. Both versions of the law would establish third-party premarket testing of certain products.

Senators and Representatives are still unable to agree on phthatlate restrictions, mandatory ASTM toy testing standards, preemption, whistleblower protection, mandatory All-Terrain Vehicle standards, and product-specific standards. The conferees also voted on an amendment to allow CPSC to ban importers and local manufacturers from the marketplace for repeat offenses. The Senators unanimously voted in favor while the Representatives unanimously voted against the amendment.

In the first conference on June 25, conferees voted and agreed on 21 noncontroversial items. The conferees have repeatedly said that they are hoping that the legislation passes in time for the August recess, which begins in just about two weeks.

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