Congressional committee hears testimony that lead law endangers kids
April 07, 2011
A key U.S. House committee heard from a variety of people on April 7 who testified on revising the lead law that will impose a de facto ban on the sale of kids' off-highway vehicles (OHVs) at the end of the year, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
A clear message that came out of the testimony is that the "lead law" - the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 -- actually poses a danger to kids.
At a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) questioned Robert Howell, assistant executive director for hazards identification and reduction at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is responsible for implementing the lead law.
Reiterating a statement made in 2009 by former CPSC chairwoman and current commissioner Nancy Nord, Kinzinger asked whether Howell agreed that the lead law may have the perverse effect of actually endangering children by forcing youth-sized vehicles off the market and resulting in children riding the far more dangerous adult-sized ATVs.
Kinzinger also said that "common sense" seems to indicate that youth-model OHVs shouldn't be subject to the lead-content restrictions of the CPSIA. He asked whether an exemption to the lead limits of the law, as proposed in H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, would be a solution.
Howell answered yes.
The CPSIA bans the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under that contains more than a specified amount of lead in any accessible part. It also requires that all children's products undergo periodic testing by independent laboratories approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is responsible for implementing the law.
The CPSC has delayed enforcing key portions of the law until after the end of the year. Unless the CPSIA is changed, the sale of kids' dirtbikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) will effectively be banned.
Kinzinger said after the hearing: "Time and time again Congress fails to see the unintended consequences of legislation.
"The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was written with the best intentions to protect the health and welfare of children. Unfortunately, the strict language in the act is actually leading children to ride ATV's that are made for adults," he said.
Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, said that the law needs to be changed to ensure that families can continue to enjoy responsible motorized recreation.
"Our best bet to change the law right now in Congress is the Kids Just Want to Ride Act that was introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.)," Moreland said. "We need all concerned parents and riders to contact their federal lawmakers and ask them to support the legislation."
The AMA will be conducting an AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb on Thursday, May 26, at the nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C., to help push for support of the bill.
The event will promote the future of youth dirtbike and ATV riding, and scores of young riders and their families are expected to attend. The day will begin with a press event introducing the winner of a video contest to focus attention on the plight of children and families impacted by the CPSIA.
Following a screening of the winning "Kids Just Want To Ride!" video, all attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their congressional representatives to urge support for the Kids Just Want to Ride Act.
For more information about the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, the AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb and the Kids Just Want To Ride! video contest, go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com.