CPSIA and the value of writing to your senator/congressman/woman

Thanks to a Blue Rose Girls post by Alvina a couple weeks ago, I was inspired to write to my senator expressing my frustration and disappointment with the implementation of the CPSIA as it gets applied to books and small manufacturers specifically.

My senator happens to be Orrin Hatch of Utah, who I don’t necessarily always agree with on copyright issues but who I am happy to say listens to his constituents when they express an opinion on policy. I framed my letter in terms of how the CPSIA will affect local libraries (we have, I think, the largest percentage by population of children in this state compared to other states, or pretty far up there, and a large percentage of those families depend upon public libraries), local small businesses (bookstores, handmade toys), and publishing in general (which trickles down to anyone in the state involved with books).

I just received a letter back, and Senator Hatch has taken actual action:

[…]The CPSIA was not intended to harm the kinds of small businesses for which you are concerned. [I wonder if this is a form letter, because he doesn’t acknowledge my concern for libraries and publishers, too.] It is apparent, however, that the regulations may need to be altered to make exemptions for certain categories of products and businesses.

Some Utah companies may be inadvertently affected by the new regulations promulgated by the [CPSIA]. I will work with my colleagues in the Senate and with the new Administration to try to rectify the problems with this new law. I have written to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and to the Chairmen of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for hearings on this important matter. Copies of the letters are available on my website at: www.hatch.senate.gov.

Thank you again for writing and sharing your concerns. I am hopeful the Federal government will successfully rectify this problem so that Utahns will not be harmed. [etc.]

Moral of the story: if you feel strongly about CPSIA, write to your senator or member of Congress and express your specific concerns about how it will affect their constituency–perhaps especially noting that in economically hard times, libraries especially have been and will bear the brunt of this policy. It’s a bill with good intentions, but bad policy right now, and I think if enough people expressed their concerns about small businesses going under because their distributors won’t place their items due to lack of testing, libraries that might have to throw out perfectly safe books, and small presses (and even large ones) that can’t afford the kind of testing currently required by CPSIA even though most children over two don’t actually eat books… anyway, with enough people going directly to those who have the power to change that policy, we’ll be able to fix it, I think.