Lee signs legislation to block congressional pay raises
Yesterday, we ran a post about Congressman Chris Lee's swearing-in as the representative of the 26th Congressional District. In a press release sent out by Lee's office earlier this week, we were informed of a pair of upcoming open houses at Lee's district offices in Erie and Monroe counties. That begged the question: What about Genesee County? So we wrote to Lee's press secretary, Andrea Bozek, to find out.
Bozek, who has always been quick to respond to our inquiries, replied:
"Congressman Lee will be fighting everyday in Congress for the people in Genesee County and all the seven counties he represents. We will be announcing several satellite office hours throughout the district and advisory boards."
We'll be sure to let you know as soon as we know where and when those satellite office hours are established.
In other news, it sounds like Lee has already taken a couple of strides in Washington. He recently co-sponsored legislation, according to Bozek, "to block congressional pay raises and has sent a letter to the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission ... regarding legislation that could harm several small businesses in our community."
Here's an excerpt from that letter:
As currently written, the (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) would require all products for children twelve and under be tested for lead and other chemicals. However, the CPSIA includes no provision to exclude items in which lead is practically nonexistent, such as clothing, toys, and other goods made of natural materials, from the testing requirements.
Were these provisions to take effect, small businesses would be forced to either spend considerable sums testing these products or stop selling them altogether. For instance, I recently heard from a consignment store owner in my district who says the Act could force her to shut down a business she has had for seventeen years. Many families in our community rely on her store for affordable clothes, especially in the current economic climate.
I am pleased to see that the Commission shares these concerns and has voted to grant exemptions in these and other related categories. At the same time, because of the Commission’s thirty day public comment period, these rule changes will not be imposed until after the CPSIA takes effect on February 10, 2009. On behalf of the consignment stores, small manufacturers and retailers in New York’s 26th District, I respectfully request that you explore ways to finalize these exemptions prior to the February 10 deadline. At a minimum, the Commission should assure business owners that the rules as currently written will not be enforced while the exemptions are under consideration.
An article published today in the Wall Street Journal takes up this issue of lead testing laws from the point of view of second-hand shops, such as thrift stores, that will no longer be able to carry any toys if the exemptions are not made in the legislation. From that article:
The new rules, which impose stricter limits on lead allowed in children's products, also make it illegal to sell recalled products. But it is difficult for thrift shops to verify whether the items they sell comply with safety regulations.