Grassroots Efforts Aim at CPSC, Congress


Websites Send Thousands of Emails to Congress
MIC/SVIA CPSC Letter Campaign Generates Strong Response

The recent letter writing campaign pushed by trade groups to change the ban on kid’s ATVs and dirt bikes  found a ready group of exhibitors and attendees at last weekend’s huge Dealer Expo, the motorcycle industry’s annual B2B equipment show in Indianapolis.

And a website launched by a Missouri state representative has generated tens of thousands of emails to congress in only a few days.

Officials at the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), a trade group located in Irvine, Calif., collected nearly 4,400 signed letters at the Dealer Expo last weekend in support of exclusions under the law for the powersports industry by the end of the four-day show Monday afternoon.  MIC representatives plan to deliver these letters to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this week and send copies to Congressional leaders to urge their support for MIC/SVIA’s request for exclusions. The SVIA (Specialty Vehicle Institute of America) is a trade group representing manufacturers of off-road equipment.

Industry members and enthusiasts also have sent thousands of e-mails to Congress through and other letter generating websites.

Perhaps the most unusual effort is the one launched by Tom Self, a Missouri representative, who organized, a site at which visitors can produce emails for their individual congressmen.

Self told me Tuesday afternoon that visitors to the site had generated more than 48,000 emails to congressmen since it was set up last week.

The law in question is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that is being administered and enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSIA was signed by President Bush last August.

On Saturday, the CPSC said it was OK to sell machines designed for 12-15 year-old riders, units that previously carried the Y12 category. These units also had been banned under the CPSIA, effective Feb. 10, 2009.  Sale of all products made primarily for children, ages 12 and younger, that did not meet the safety requirements specified in the law were banned on that date.

Thousands of businesses have been affected by the ban, and the CPSC has been working feverishly to implement the poorly written law so that it can protect children without placing unnecessarily strict burdens on industry.

“Our industry has obtained no relief from the CPSC yet,” says Paul Vitrano, general counsel for the MIC, referring to recent comments by the CPSC .

“The CPSC’s recent statements simply verbally clarify that CPSC staff believes that Y12+ ATVs are not subject to the law,” says Vitrano.  “Numerous other youth products with lead content in excess of the limits remain prohibited from sale.”

Scott Wolfson, a CPSC spokesman, told Dealernews magazine Saturday, “We have heard the voices of those throughout the industry and those who are riders. We’re working as hard as we can as an agency.”

Wolfson said the agency is working on petitions submitted by MIC/SVIA that seek relief under the law. “We really want to calm down dealers,” he said. “They should get (the youth models) off their show floors and back into holding areas. It’s only been a matter of days since we received the industry’s petitions. We’re dealing with more than ATVs; we’re dealing with every single product for children under 12. We need a little bit more time to process the petitions and make assessments. We want our decisions to be based upon sound legal judgments.”

Vitrano questioned Wolfson’s statement.  “The industry and its customers cannot afford to calm down. We have products that are prohibited for no good reason and we have demonstrated that they should be excluded under the law. Plus, we are very concerned that this ban will end up driving youth to ride vehicles too big for them to operate safely.” JD

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