Kids Safe Product Act Takes Center Stage
Two bills introduced by lawmakers today take aim at the Kids Safe Product Act, which was passed in 2008. Critics of the legislation say it goes too far.The Kids Safe Product Act is meant to reduce children’s exposure to dangerous chemicals in everyday products. It requires the state to make a list of priority chemicals of concern and mandate safer alternatives when available.Critics say with nearly 1800 chemicals on the priority list, it’s too broad. Senator James Hamper is one of only nine lawmakers to vote against the Kids Safe Product Act three years ago, saying it hurts business. He’s proposed a bill he thinks strikes a balance between keeping kids safe without hurting business growth. “We’re dealing with policy here. We’re dealing with lawmaking. I urge you to put the emotion aside because emotion drove this process in 2008,” Senator Hamper told the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.Critics, like small business owner Bettyann Sheats, say the rollbacks in Hamper’s bill are potentially dangerous. She doesn:t think they’ll help Maine’s business climate at all. “My biggest fear is that they do roll this back and there is no oversight and that the chemicals that I’m using in my business could be damaging me,” Sheats said. “I could be bring the fumes or dust home.”Mike Belliveau, the Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, also showed up to offer testimony condemning Hamper’s proposed legislation. “This is really about the chemical industry from out of state coming on and joining Governor LePage in trying to rollback protections for Maine’s children,” he said.Business leaders turned out at Tuesday’s hearing to show support for the bill. They’re adamant the bill will not repeal the kids safe products act, as critics have said. “We don’t disagree there needs to be a process in terms of dealing with chemicals that are in children’s products, but the current process that’s written is written so broadly that it created a list of 1750 chemicals that creates an uncertainty for businesses in Maine,” says Ben Gilman of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.The negative feedback to Hamper’s bill has not gone unnoticed. Hamper says it’s not his intention to put Maine kids at risk. “I don’t see anything here to put my grandson at risk and quite honestly I take offense to emails I receive,” he told the committee.Another bill introduced by state Senator Seth Goodall is thought to be a compromise between the two sides. “My bill is a more moderate approach to try to solve the problems and address the concerns by the business community,” Goodall told the committee.Some members of the committee say it’s possible, in the end, to combine the two bills.