Stamford, CT – September 10, 2009 – Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) Board members Jill Chuckas, owner of Crafty Baby (CT) and Kate Glynn, owner of A Child’s Garden and Impish (MA), attended a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection on Thursday addressing issues regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Although not invited to formally testify, the HTA has vocalized a solid and consistent message to fully participate in the process to address the unintended consequences facing its members from the CPSIA. This hearing, although solely focused on the information shared by Chairperson Inez Tenenbaum of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), was the first of its kind to discuss the implementation process and ramifications of the CPSIA.
When questioned directly by Ranking House Member Radonovich (CA) and Chairman Emeritus Dingell (MI) if the CPSC needed flexibility in the CPSIA to grant exemptions and fully implement the law before them, Chair Tenenbaum repeatedly stated that it was premature for her to answer the question. Later, when Rep. Dingell further pressed the issue asking if she would support targeted amendments to the CPSIA, Chair Tenenbaum again stated that it was premature to fully answer, but once her staff finished “untangling the knots”, that a legislative response may be needed. Throughout her testimony, Chair Tenenbaum reinforced her commitment to work diligently to educate consumers, implement the legislation before her and be transparent in the process.
One issue that Chair Tenenbaum began to touch upon was component based testing – an area on which the HTA has long awaited a ruling. “We heard it clearly stated by Chair Tenenbaum that a ruling relating to component based certification will be forthcoming, but no time line as to when that will be and exactly what it will encompass,” Chuckas stated. “We recognize that she has only been in office for just over 2 months and has made tremendous progress in a short period of time, but our member businesses are closing now and this ruling could keep them open. It is extremely frustrating that this process takes so much time when it appears, at least from our standpoint, to be a fairly straightforward request.”
Following the hearing, Chuckas and Glynn visited with their members of Congress – the offices of Sen. Kerry (MA), Sen. Dodd (CT) and Rep. Himes (CT). Chuckas and Glynn had met with staffers from these offices after the April 1st rally and had kept in consistent communication with these Congressional members. At this meeting, the HTA team sought additional support and outreach to request further hearings and open dialogue with both Congress and the CPSC, hoping to enact common sense changes within the fabric of the CPSIA. “It was encouraging to hear that my Congressmen are willing and able to openly discuss the concerns of the HTA membership as a whole,” Glynn commented. “Although I recognize that our journey is not yet over, I feel some amount of hope that our voices are being heard.”
The Handmade Toy Alliance is a grassroots alliance of 382 retail stores, toymakers and children's product manufacturers from across the country who want to preserve consumer access to unique handmade toys, clothes and all manner of small batch children's goods in the USA. Formed in November of 2008 in response to the CPSIA, HTA members are parents, grandparents and consumers who are passionate about their businesses as well as the safety of the children in their lives. While in support of the spirit of the law, the unintended consequences of the CPSIA have motivated members of the HTA to work to enact change at a federal level.