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Retailers concerned over safety bill


WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation today expressed its support for a House bill that would increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but said more time is needed to implement proposed new lead standards and that some provisions could hamper safety efforts.

In a letter to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Steve Pfister, NRF’s senior vp for government relations said: “Retailers are committed to ensuring that the products on their shelves are of the highest quality and meet all applicable health and safety regulations. We applaud the efforts of Congress to seek to improve the processes within the CPSC while giving them additional resources. However, we are concerned that some of the provisions may weaken the product recall process instead of strengthening it.”

The committee is scheduled to vote today on H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, sponsored by Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush, R-Ill., and co-sponsored by full committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich. Among other provisions, the bill would double annual funding for the short-staffed CPSC to $142 million and increase its maximum civil penalty to $10 million from the current $1.8 million.

NRF said that while its supports many elements of the legislation, including the increased funding and  tracking labels that would help identify recalled items, it is concerned that retailers will not have enough time to implement new lead standards set forth by the bill.

“The current 180-day implementation in the bill would be incredibly difficult for industry to achieve,” Pfister said. “Retailers are currently placing orders for products today that will be on the store shelves next fall. These products are being manufactured to specifications that meet the current standards set by the CPSC. While companies understand that new lead levels will be established, they are not sure what those levels will be and need to be given appropriate time to meet those standards. Retailers must be given at least a year to work with their vendor partners to implement these new significant changes.”

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