Will Spitzer's Proposed Child Protection Laws Work?

As we mentioned earlier, Elliot Spitzer, the governor of New York, seems a bit miffed about the whole lead recall thing. He’s issued a press release about some “initiatives” he’s taking in response to the recent recalls because he feels the CPSC doesn’t have enough power to deal with the problem.

“The federal government’s limited powers of enforcement and voluntary recalls are not enough to protect our children from the dangers of lead poisoning and other hazards,” said Governor Spitzer. “In the absence of federal laws requiring that hazardous toys be removed from store shelves and further circulation, New York is prepared to launch a series of initiatives to better protect children from toys that are known to be unsafe.”

Here is the most interesting initiative:

Mandatory, not voluntary removal: The State Health Department (DOH) will take summary action under existing Public Health Laws to ensure that recalled toys are removed from New York stores, returned to manufacturers and appropriately destroyed. State Health Department and the state Consumer Protection Board (CPB) staff will inspect retailers to make sure that they comply. In the past 24 hours, the state has found numerous of the recalled toys still on shelves throughout the state.

Spitzer is also proposing tough-sounding legislation:

Legislative actions: The Governor will direct the CPB to draft legislation that would impose stiff civil and criminal fines against those who sell recalled products; require recalled products distributed in New York State to be destroyed and for manufacturers to certify their destruction to prevent the items from surfacing on the Internet or at a second-hand stores; require manufacturers to establish a notification system when recalling products and mandating that retailers post recall notices in a conspicuous fashion.

We’re unsure how this legislation would differ from laws in place in, say Illinois—where its illegal for a store to sell a recalled product meant for someone under the age of 9. That law doesn’t seem to be keeping recalled toys off of Illinois shelves, though, at least in the case of the Magnetix recall.
Illinois’ law doesn’t seem to phase the likes of Walmart and Target until the Attorney General and the newspapers start getting involved. NY’s plan to conduct inspections, however, is very interesting.