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Blogging the Product Safety Bill Conference
I should probably call this entry retrospective blogging on the product safety bill conference since it took place at 4ish Wednesday and will continue after Congress returns from the July 4 recess.
Not much news came out of the event, where members from the House and Senate were supposed to resolve differences between each chamber's version of product safety reform legislation. They didn't finish Wednesday and will meet again in July.
Despite keeping us in suspense for who knows how much longer, the lawmakers were at least kind enough to have the meeting in a room big enough for the crowd that showed up. The line to get in was lengthy, with business lobbyists at the front of the pack (courtesy of a paid line place holder), the consumer advocates somewhere in the middle, and a bunch of journalists, including me, making up the caboose.
Inside, the members continued their habit of listing how many children and grandchildren they have. (You know because my childless friends are always offering my kid lead-chip cookies and BPA-and-J sandwiches. Kidding.)
Over the course of many hearings, this is what I've tallied up: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has a daughter who likes Barbie dolls. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) has two daughters, at least one of whom has donned a princess crown. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has four kids and possibly three grandchildren (two were in utero when she referred to them during a hearing). And Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) has four grandchildren and a toddler named Jack--a fact he stated yesterday, which briefly sent the gears in my brain turning. (Answer: second marriage.)
The most lively debate was over a proposed ban of certain kinds of phthalates--chemicals used to make plastic malleable that have been linked to reproductive problems. One observer at the conference said afterward that it looked like the fix was in for a phthalate ban. We shall see!
The lawmakers did accomplish something. They signed off on 21 provisions that they agreed on. But just as a staffer began to name them, House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) interrupted to say the House members had three votes and had to leave, ending the proceedings then and there. A collective "Doh!" arose from the journo table. (I am referring to the table reporters are allowed to sit at for the duration of most hearings and other gatherings. Sort of like the kids' table at Thanksgiving.)
The list of approved items was liberated about an hour later. If you're curious what provisions have made it, you can read the list after the jump.
1. Tracking Labels for Children's Products
2. Durable Nursery Product Standards
3. Catalog and Internet Advertising
4. Study of Injuries and Deaths in Minority Children
5. Full Commission Requirement and Interim Quorum
6. Submission of Documents to Congress
7. Expedited Rulemaking
8. Prohibition on Stockpiling
9. Enhanced Recall Authority
10. Corrective Action Plans
11. Requirements for Recall Notices
12. Inspection of Proprietary Labs
13. Identification of Manufacturers
14. Increased Civil Penalty
15. Sharing of Information with Government Agencies
16. Repeal of Section 30(d) of the Consumer Product Safety Act
17. Industry Sponsored Travel Ban
18. Annual Reporting Requirement
19. Study of effectiveness of authorities related to imported product safety
20. Cost Benefit Analysis for the Poison Prevention Packaging Act
21. Employee Training Exchanges