Nobody likes the compromise reached by Senators to reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Industry thinks the revised plan goes too far, while consumer groups want more. For now, the compromise would allow the CPSC to operate without a quorum, inject needed cash into the Commission, and provide for several other nifty provisions.
- The CPSC would create a consumer complaint database that lists death, injury and illness reports, a provision absent from the House bill.
- State attorneys general would be allowed to seek injunctions for violations of federal law, but would not receive broad enforcement powers.
- Whistleblower protection would be extended to private-sector employees, and whistleblowers would be allowed to sue for damages up to $250,000.
- Maximum fines would rise from $1.8 million to $20 million—far less than the $100 million approved by the House.
Congress should arm state attorneys general with broad enforcement powers and authorize staggering fines that can threaten the reputation and wallet of any company. Still, the current compromise would give consumers more than the pitiful excuse for protection that we currently endure. Even if the bill passes in its current form, consumers need and deserve Commissioners who are willing to wield the tools Congress provides.