After months of negotiations, the U.S. Senate this week will take up consensus legislation (S. 2663) to reauthorize and reform the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). While S. 2663 is an improvement over the bill (S. 2045) approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee last fall, it still contains several provisions that will serve to line the pockets of trial lawyers instead of protecting consumers. The more troublesome provisions would:
- Allow each state attorney general to sue manufacturers for actions or omissions that he/she interprets and alleges to be consumer product safety violations even if the products don't violate federal standards;
- Expand whistleblower protections to private-sector employees and allow them to sue their employers for damages of up to $250,000;
- Require the CPSC to create and maintain a publicly available searchable database containing massive amounts of inaccurate, unverified, or extraneous information concerning risks and injuries associated with products, which will confuse consumers and threaten the integrity of confidential business information;
- Abolish federal preemption of future CPSC regulations, effectively giving states license to act on their own to impose and enforce new consumer product safety laws; and
- Require a manufacturer referencing standards on consumer products, advertising and packaging to include a statement with respect to whether the product meets "all applicable requirements" of the standard.
NEMA supports reauthorization of the CPSC, but clearly, the Senate has some work to do this week to improve the bill. To send your senators a message about these provisions, please click here.