Senator Stevens Floor Statement on Consumer Product Safety Bill

March 3, 2008

This measure provides greatly needed resources and improves enforcement authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and this bill has come a long way throughout this whole process.  I thank Senators Pryor and Inouye for allowing me to work so closely with them to negotiate this bill.  I consider this to be a solid and fair compromise position. 
One of my favorite parts of being a Senator is we have the chance to improve the lives of children at times.  This bill contains several important provisions to improve toy safety.  When a child unwraps a gift on his or her birthday, the surprise should be what the toy is, not whether the toy is unsafe.  It should not have dangerous substances or unsafe parts. 
Under this bill, children’s products would require certification that they meet all applicable safety standards.  Also, the testing and certification process would be strengthened to ensure the integrity of the testing. 
Today, toys aren’t purchased the way they used to be.  E-commerce allows Alaskans and many people throughout rural states, the opportunity to find many products that aren’t on the shelves in rural towns.  But, it can be difficult for a parent to judge a product based on the manufacturer’s description or photo of a child’s toy.  This bill would mandate that all internet websites are labeled so that consumers are informed of any choking hazard or toys that are not suitable for children under three years of age.
There is another provision that has been included at my request that I think is very important to my home state of Alaska, and also to millions of Americans who use all terrain vehicles (ATVs) every day for work and recreation.  With the popularity of ATVs many domestic and foreign manufacturers are producing more of these vehicles in an effort to meet the increased consumer demand, and many of the new market entrants are from China or Taiwan.  These ATV provisions in this bill would require all persons who market and sell ATVs in the United States to meet the same stringent safety requirements that are currently followed by major ATV manufacturers her in the United States.  The provision also would preserve the authority of the CPSC to establish additional mandatory ATV safety rules through the normal rulemaking process.  
I really do thank my colleague Senator Pryor and our Chairman Senator Inouye for working so diligently on this legislation.  It has been a privilege to work with them to craft a piece of legislation that will help protect the public from dangerous products and return consumer confidence in the marketplace.  I look forward to working with them here in the Senate to try to get this bill to conference with the house so we can send it to the President.  I think this is a needed bill, Mr. President, and I call the attention of the Senate to the ATV problem several times prior during this session.  And I am happy that this provision is included in this bill.  I thank my colleague.