Toys back on the sales rack through end of year
BY CAROL MCILMURRAY
Safe to Play Coalition is threatening to file suit against Rockland County for the new “Toxic Toy” law, Local Law 3, which bans the sale of children’s products made containing any amount of seven dangerous chemicals. In an effort to avoid lawsuit and save taxpayer money, County Attorney Thomas E. Humbach has agreed for Rockland County put a stay on the toxic toy ban until December 31, 2015.
A statement released by Ed Day’s office about the pending suit stated, “This is serious. Beyond the disappointment children have when perfectly safe “Happy Meal” toys are now banned by an absurd law, we now have significant economic issues as toy stores are mulling over pulling other toys, clothes and even child car safety seats off [the] shelves too!”
The law was written and spearheaded by Legislative Chairman Alden Wolfe. It remained unsigned by Day, as he hoped to amend the law before it took effect because he anticipated legal challenges. Wolfe said he is currently working with an unspecified group to amend the law and said he does not plan to repeal it.
The deal to not enforce the newly implemented Rockland law comes after Safe to Play Coalition’s successful suit against Albany County for nearly an identical law in May. Safe to Play Coalition is a non-profit bloc of multi-billion dollar toy groups who advocate for global standards in children’s toy and clothing safety.
According to Rick Locker, attorney for the Coalition, “The Rockland law was poorly thought out and impossible to enforce… there is a robust federal regulatory system for children products already in place.”
Locker went on to say the ordinance put in place by the County Legislature “violates the US Constitution due to the Commerce Clause.” Locker went to explain the US Congress created the Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) “to develop uniform safety standards for consumer products and to minimize conflicting State and local regulations.”
Locker continued 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed by the US Congress already insured all toys sold in the United States meet the highest requirements of anywhere in the world, including heavy metals listed in Rockland’s Local Law 3.
Local Law 3 bans the sale of any children’s product in Rockland containing chemicals benzene, lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and cobalt, in any amount above zero. According to Locker there is no known way to test for these chemicals down to a zero, causing serious concerns for implementation of the law and its effect on conducting business in Rockland County.
“Nothing is more important to toymakers than preserving the safety of children at play. Unfortunately, Rockland County’s so-called “Toxic Free Toys Act” is inefficient, unnecessary, illegal and does nothing to strengthen toy safety” according to a statement from Toy Industry Association (TIA), one of several non-profits represented by Safe to Play Coalition. According to legal papers “TIA’s more than 800 global members account for approximately 90 percent of the annual U.S. domestic toy market.”
Also listed in the potential suit are American Apparel and Footwear, Halloween Industry of America and Juvenile Products Manufactures Associations, all non-profits under different state laws. Safe to Play Coalition says that they are willing to work with the county to avoid litigation until the law is amended or repealed.