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Monday November 19, 2012

Commissioners Weigh in on Senate Measure on Independent Agencies

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Commissioners Weigh in on Senate Measure on Independent Agencies


Tenenbaum Reflects on 2012 and Looks Ahead to 2013


CPSC Staff Present NPR for Bedside Sleepers to Commissioners


Commissioners Hear Proposal for Handheld Infant Carrier Rule


ASTM Panel Looks at Baby Monitors


Australia Bans Some Small, Powerful Magnets


Canada Aims to Limit TCEP in Kids’ Products


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CPSC members gave their views on a Senate measure, S. 3468, which would place cost-benefit burdens on independent regulatory agencies. Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Commissioner Robert Adler wrote the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs that they have “serious concerns” about the bill. Meanwhile, Commissioner Nancy Nord wrote to the panel that she thinks its passage would help CPSC “strengthen its mission.”


In their November 7 letter, Tenenbaum and Adler wrote:

“Unfortunately, the current draft of S. 3468 would undermine [CPSC’s] independence. It would authorize the President to require independent agencies to submit their rulemakings to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for prior review. This would constitute a fundamental change in the role of all independent regulatory agencies.


“For the CPSC specifically, it would add to an already comprehensive set of regulatory review mandates that we are required to follow under the laws that we currently enforce. This bill would empower OMB to require the agency to repeat time-consuming analyses, which would delay the development of life-saving and injury reducing measures, such as the recently passed infant and toddler product safety standards, that constitute the heart of the agency’s mission. It would undo reforms in the [CPSIA] that gave the Commission additional authority to respond quickly to new and emerging product safety hazards.”

Nord, in her November 13 letter, told the committee:

“CPSC has failed to analyze adequately for the costs or benefits of the key rules that it has adopted over the last several years. Citing too little money, time or interest, a majority of the Commission chose to be uninformed as we have sought to carry out our regulatory mission. For example, in the last two years, we have adopted two major rules with an impact on the economy of well over $100-million–out of a total of three in the agency’s history–without sufficient analysis. Especially in light of the nation’s economic crisis, this was astounding. Safety could have been achieved at a lower cost but we did not do that analysis.


“It does not have to be that way, and I believe that S. 3468 would assist the agency by directing that it use sound economic analysis as it promulgates regulations. These analyses would allow the agency to adopt timely regulations, improve their effectiveness, and return the agency to good administrative policy that furthers safety wisely.”


Under the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012, introduced in August by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the President could require agencies to do13 tasks related to their rules, including assessing the target problems, looking to see of other rules exist to address them, doing cost-benefit analysis, considering “alternative forms of regulation,” and drafting rules that are “simple and easy to understand.”


Then, for economically significant rules, the agencies also would need to seek the OMB review, which would look at costs, benefits and alternatives.


The measure was slated for possible markup by the committee on November 15 as PSL went to press.


It also was the subject of a November 5 opinion piece in The Hill by Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, co-founders of Kids in Danger. They wrote, “[T]he sweeping reach of this proposal would lead to delays in the work of all regulatory agencies, including the CPSC. By mandating a whole new layer of economic analysis requirements, S. 3468 would significantly delay or prevent the implementation of the safety protections issued by the CPSC.”