Given the partisan rancor generally spilling out of the nation's capital, it was refreshing to attend a markup of several bills (including one that is important to NEMA's Signaling, Protection and Communication Section) that have bipartisan support.

This morning the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection approved five measures by voice vote, including H.R. 1796, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act. This bill, sponsored by Representative Jim Matheson (D-UT), would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt the industry consensus standards for carbon monoxide alarms (ANSI/UL 2034, Single and Multiple Station Carbon Monoxide Alarms) and detectors (ANSI/UL 2075, Gas and Vapor Detectors and Sensors) as mandatory consumer product safety standards. Most importantly, the bill establishes a grant program to assist states with carrying out carbon monoxide programs. This will allow states that adopt laws requiring the installation of CO detection devices in homes to compete for federal grants to purchase and provide CO alarms and detectors for certain vulnerable populations, train code enforcement officials in the proper enforcement of state CO laws, and educate the public about the risks associated with carbon monoxide. While the bill is not perfect and will require additional changes as it advances through the legislative process, its passage nevertheless demonstrates Congress' attention to life safety issues, which should NEVER be a partisan issue.

While Democrats and Republicans continue to battle it out over other issues on the congressional agenda, it was refreshing to witness that Members of Congress can, at times, get along with one another and work together for the common good. If only it happened more often.


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