Chairman Elliot Kaye will discuss consumer product safety issues on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir and 20/20. The interview will air tonight.
According to ABC News, the CPSC is launching a “major campaign” to stop the sale of recalled products online.
In an preview of the interview this morning on Good Morning America, Chairman Kaye took Craigslist to task for not effectively blocking the sale of recalled products. An ABC News investigation found many recalled products posted for sale on the popular online ad site.
UPDATE: Craiglist’s CEO fired back with an open letter to the Chair. “Imagine our dismay when you and ABC ‘came out shooting’ at craigslist,” Jim Buckmaster writes. “Last we knew from your representatives, earlier this year, we were taking all appropriate steps to reduce the number of free classified ads for recall items by craigslist users.”
The push for reducing the burden of third-party testing on consumer product sellers may get a boost as Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is expected to rise to Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
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During confirmation hearings for Elliot Kaye (D) and Joseph Mohorovic (R) in April, Thune requested that they submit their plans to him for addressing burden reduction. In a joint letter addressed to Thune on September 26, now Chairman Kaye and Commissioner Mohorovic outlined their commitment to this goal and asked for additional federal funds to achieve it.
Zen Magnets, which continues to fight an administrative action initiated by the CPSC to force the company to recall its products, released a YouTube video earlier this week making its case directly to the public.
The company remains the last standing manufacturer of desktop magnet sphere toys standing after other companies settled and recalled their products, the most well known of which was Buckyballs. The CPSC recently promulgated a final rule that effectively bans the future sale of such products, even if marketed exclusively to adults with strong warning labels against child use.
CPSC Commissioner Joseph Mohorovic spoke with members of the National Association of Manufacturers’ CPSC Coalition last Thursday about his observations and priorities after completing his first 100 days in office.
In a meeting open to the public, Mohorovic emphasized his interest in developing better engagement between the CPSC and stakeholders with regard to consumer product safety regulations and Commission practices. He suggested that the CPSC establish advisory groups for stakeholder input, as authorized by the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Advisory commissions, he noted, could help the CPSC improve the effectiveness of recalls. It might also avoid surprises, such as the sudden change of the CPSC’s monthly recall progress report form to include social media “likes” and retweets.
Mohorovic also voiced his frustration that the Commission has not done more to lower the burden of third-party testing, stating “we’ve made no progress” in the matter. Do not “confuse activity with progress,” he said.
The CPSC has imposed a record high civil penalty of $4.3 million, demonstrating the Commission’s increased authority to impose fines for reporting violations and willingness to use its power.
On October 24, the Commission voted 4-1 (with Commissioner Buerkle in opposition) to provisionally approve a penalty agreement with Baja Inc. and its corporate affiliate One World Technologies Inc. The agreement settles allegations that “the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, defects and unreasonable risk of serious injury involving 11 models of mini-bikes and go-carts,” according to the agency’s press release.
The Government Accountability Office recently released a report on the “Challenges and Options for Responding to New and Emerging Risks.” Congress required GAO to undertake such a review as part of a 2014 appropriations bill. After interviewing stakeholders, Commissioners, and experts, and reviewing existing statutes and regulations, GAO presents several options for quickly addressing new product safety threats.
GAO finds that while some of the suggested approaches may allow the Commission to act or disseminate information more quickly, each involves significant trade offs. Some approaches could “inhibit market innovation,” “impose burdensome costs on manufacturers and CPSC,” or “unfairly harm manufacturers and inhibit their right to due process.” The GAO report provides no new recommendations to the CPSC. Continue reading GAO Issues Report, No Recommendations, on CPSC’s Ability to Address Emerging Risks
Two weeks since Elliot Kaye was sworn in as the 10th Chairman of the CPSC, he has started to indicate a direction for the CPSC that may move in a different direction in some respects than his predecessor, Acting Chair Bob Adler.
In an interview with Law360 (subscription required), Kaye said he would require “clear safety justifications” for any planned rule changes. “The guiding principles would be: What is the safety problem that we’re solving? Can it be articulated in a simple way?” Kaye. “If the rules are meant to create a certain environment, then we must explain clear safety justifications behind it.”
The CPSC has announced a workshop on the electronic filing of certificates for regulated imported consumer products. The workshop will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss how the Commission may improve the current process concerning Certificates of Compliance. CPSC staff will hold the workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 18 in the 4th floor Hearing Room at CPSC’s headquarters at 4330 East West Highway in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Commission issued a proposed rule to amend the existing rule on Certificates of Compliance (16 CFR Part 1110), but received near-unanimous criticism for its proposal. The National Association of Manufacturers and others submitted comments that were highly critical of the CPSC’s failure to work with stakeholders in identifying potential issues and policy solutions. Earlier this year, groups representing consumer product makers and sellers requested that the Commission hold a workshop.
To register for the workshop, click here. Those wishing to attend must register by Sept. 5, 2014, although registration may close earlier if full capacity is reached. Those wishing to participate on a panel as a speaker must register by August 8, 2014.
Magnicube Spheres and Magnicube Cubes sets. Photo: CPSC.
Yesterday, Star Networks USA LLC announced that it is voluntarily recalling its Magnicube spheres and cubes. The Star Networks settlement leaves one manufacturer “sticking,” Zen Magnets, which vows to continue to resist the CPSC and go to trial.
The recall follows the CPSC’s settlement with the former CEO of Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, Craig Zucker, in May to recall a similar high-powered magnetic sets, Buckyballs and Buckycubes. The CPSC found that the product pose an unacceptable risk to children, even though they are solely marketed to adults as desktop toys and included warnings.
The Commission’s new Chair: Elliot Kaye. Photo: CPSC.
The CPSC now has a full house. The Senate confirmed Elliot Kaye (D) and Joseph Mohorovic (R) as Chairman and Commissioner, respectively, by a voice vote on July 28. They were sworn in on Thursday.
Kaye replaces acting Chairman Robert Adler, who has led the agency since the departure of Inez Tenenbaum when her term expired in November 2013. Adler will continue to serve as a Commissioner and he awaits Senate action on his re-nomination for a second term. His current term runs through October 2014, but can be extended an additional year if the Senate does not fill the slot.
Cary Silverman is an attorney in Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.'s Public Policy Group. He advises businesses and trade associations on CPSC matters, including reporting obligations, recalls, regulations, legislation, and policy. [Read more]