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Toxic Toys Update: States Pushing Forward with Bold, Comprehensive Legislation

Toxic Toys Update: States Pushing Forward with Bold, Comprehensive Legislation

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

http://www.progressivestates.org/dispatch

Strengthening-Communities

Toxic Toys Update: States Pushing Forward with Bold, Comprehensive Legislation

Since our last Dispatch on toxic toys, several states have moved comprehensive legislation against toxics in children's toys and products.

Washington state passed the nation's toughest regulation, which not only reduces the allowable lead level to 40 parts per million (ppm), but also limits phthalates and cadmium in children's toys and products.  Despite heavy pressure from industry lobbyists, Governor Gregoire signed the bill and stated, "We in Washington are not going to wait to protect our children.  The toys that pose a danger to our children are not welcomed here in Washington State."

Just last week, the Maine legislature passed a toxic toys bill that would continually test toys and products and require the use of safer alternatives when available.  The bill also allows the state to participate in an interstate clearinghouse to share information on toxics and promote safer chemical use. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New YorkRhode Island, and Vermont all have comprehensive bills active, while other states still have plans to introduce legislation.  In all, an astounding twenty-nine states introduced some sort of legislation to address the toxic toy problem.

Moreover, several large companies are voluntarily removing toxics for children's toys and products.  On the heels of a draft report from the National Toxicology Program that raised concerns about the safety of bisphenol-A (BPA), Toys "R" Us is dropping baby bottles made with the toxin.  This news follows the Food and Drug Administration's admission that they relied on two studies sponsored by the plastic industry lobby on determining acceptable BPA levels.  Of the two studies used in the FDA's analysis, one has been found to be deeply flawed and the other has not been published, nor have the results of the study been made public. Canada declared BPA a toxic chemical in the last few days and Nalgene, makers of plastic water bottles, is phasing out production of water bottles containing BPA.  

On the phthalates front, retail giants Target and Wal-Mart have begun voluntary efforts to remove phthalates from their products.  They are joined by Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike and Apple.  The writing is on the wall.  If Wal-Mart is removing phthalates, there is no reason why states shouldn't ban the toxin and ensure our children are free from exposure to toxic toys and products.

More Resources

Valuing-Families

Connecticut House Approves Healthcare Partnership

On Wednesday night, the Connecticut House passed a simple, yet far-reaching bill to offer small businesses and municipalities better, more affordable health insurance.  The Connecticut Healthcare Partnership, HB 5536, allows small businesses and municipalities to join the state employee health insurance plan.  This is significant because small employers, towns, employees and their families will be able to join forces with and benefit from the bargaining power of the 200,000 member-strong state employee pool.

House Majority Leader, Rep. Chris Donovan, who sponsored the legislation, projects millions of dollars in savings to municipalities who choose to join the state employee plan.  New Haven, for instance, could save over $8.6 billion in annual employee health insurance costs, freeing up scarce resources for property tax relief and local investments in education, roads, and public safety.

Several states have proposals to create large public pools to negotiate better rates from insurance companies and hospitals.  This is a key priority for long-term sustainable health care reform.  Kansas and Delaware have proposals to allow small employers to join state employee health plans in some capacity and Wisconsin and Washington have proposals that combine the purchasing power of all residents not covered by Medicaid or Medicare.  Additionally, Pennsylvania advocates are waging a strong campaign to move a statewide comprehensive health care system, known as the Family and Business Health Care Security Act, that would achieve tremendous economies of scale and ensure state residents get real value for their health care dollar.

If the Connecticut Senate follows the House, the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership would be precedent-setting legislation as one of the broadest measures to combine the health care purchasing power of the public and private sectors.

More Resources

Research Roundup

In a new report by the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, a group of state attorneys general and banking regulators working to prevent home foreclosures, they find that seven out of ten delinquent borrowers are not on track for any loss-mitigation outcome.  The report recommends more systematic loan work-out systems and slowing down foreclosure processes to allow time for more work-outs.

In an in-depth report, the Economic Policy Institute finds that the share of workers with employer-provided health care declined from 51.1% in 2000 to 48.8% in 2006 despite a profitable business cycle for businesses in that period.  The report finds that this decline is not due to the loss of particular industry jobs but to a broad drop in coverage within all kinds of industries.

In Skilled Workers, Quality Jobs: Meeting the Needs of Wisconsin's Workers and Businesses , the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) highlights growing shortages of skilled workers for many industries, and the insufficient education and training for too many working Wisconsinites who are unable to land jobs with family-sustaining wages.

The failure of the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive broadband policy has left the country ranked only 15th out of 30 developed countries in percentage of population with broadband access, according to this economic snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute.

Highlighting that "access to health care" means more than the ability to go to an emergency room, the Center for American Progress argues in a new resource that affordable coverage is needed to assure that Americans can get the preventive and other care needed.  They note that tax credits and other market-based reforms fail to address key problems.

The National Partnership for Women & Families is conducting an national online rally in support of paid sick days legislation.


Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

Resources

Toxic Toys Update: States Pushing Forward with Bold, Comprehensive Legislation

Progressive States Network - Protection our Children: States Take Action Against Toxic Toys

National Toxicology Program - Draft NTP Brief on Bisphenol-A

Stateline.org - States lead feds in toy safety

Healthytoys.org

Bills:
California: SB 1713
Connecticut: HB 5601
Delaware: HB 362
Illinois: HB 5705
New Jersey: AB 2332
New York: AB 6829
Rhode Island; HB 7812, HB 7098
Vermont: HB 666
Maine: LD 2480
Washington: HB 2647

Connecticut House Approves Healthcare Partnership

Rep. Chris Donovan - Connecticut Healthcare Partnership

Events

Good Jobs First Conference

May 7th & 8th
Baltimore/D.C. area

Registration is now open for Good Jobs First's national conference on May 7 and 8 near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, located between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Come meet the nation's top campaigners, researchers and experts on economic development accountability and smart growth for working families.

Masthead

The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Policy Director
J. Mijin Cha, Policy Specialist
Julie Schwartz, Policy Specialist
Christian Smith-Socaris, Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Policy Specialist
John Bacino, Operations Manager
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Coordinator

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