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CU Praises House Committee for Safety Measures

For Immediate Release
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Contact:Janell Mayo Duncan 301-467-6805

Consumers Union Praises House Committee for Action on Consumer Safety Measures

Washington, DC—Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, commends the House Energy and Commerce Committee for its bi-partisan leadership today in approving four important consumer protection measures. CU testified in favor of these bills on June 6, 2007 before the House Commerce Subcommittee. (See ConsumersUnion.org PDF)
“From ensuring the availability of child-resistant gas caps, to helping reduce pool and spa drownings, to facilitating quicker recalls of unsafe nursery products, the Committee came together today to help make things safer for children,” said Janell Duncan, Senior Counsel for Consumers Union.
“With all the bad news recently about unsafe products and the growing number of recalls, it’s good to see this bipartisan effort giving more tools to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency responsible for monitoring the safety of products in the marketplace. We hope this is only the beginning of Congressional efforts to repair a broken CPSC,” said Duncan.
H.R.814, the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act, calls for regulations mandating child-resistant closures on all portable gasoline containers. The bill directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to promulgate final child-resistance product safety standards for closures on portable gasoline containers intended for use by consumers. The bill is sponsored by Representative Dennis Moore (D-KS).
A recall can only be as good as consumer notification — and too often, when manufacturers recall a product due to safety concerns they do not get them back. H.R.1699, the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require manufacturers to provide the means to register a product – either on paper or on line – to facilitate recalls of durable infant and toddler products. The bill is sponsored by Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL).
Large retailers and manufacturers may look at civil penalties as simply a cost of doing business. The current limits on civil penalties for companies that bring unsafe products to the market therefore are inadequate to serve as an effective deterrent. H.R. 2474, introduced by Chairman Bobby Rush (D-IL) of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, would increase the maximum civil penalty for violations under the Consumer Product Safety Act from $1.85 million to $10 million. Although a good start, elimination of the limit would create maximum deterrence against violators of the law.
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages one to four. H.R. 1721, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, sponsored by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), would increase the safety of swimming pools and spas by requiring the use of proper anti-entrapment drain covers and pool and spa drainage systems. It also would also establish a swimming pool safety grant program to be administered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to encourage States to improve their pool and spa safety laws and to educate the public about pool and spa safety.
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