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.



Edit Your Comment

  1. vladthepaler says:

    I don’t know how the state of New York can hope to enforce a requirement that some Chinese manufacturer take back and certify that it has destroyed recalled product. But making it mandatory rather than optional to stop selling recalled product is a good idea, given there are plans to enforce it with inspections.

  2. magic8ball says:

    Go Elliot. I hope he can find a way to implement this effectively.

  3. LionelEHutz says:

    Unless the law carries the “corporate death penalty” for repeat offenders, then this is relatively toothless to a multi-billion dollar company such as Walmart. For those large corporations that are not incorporated in NY, NY can revoke their authorization to do business in NY is Walmart or some other foreign corporation repeatedly violate the law. This sort of thing probably won’t make it into this law though.

  4. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Pessimists might look at this and think “it’ll never work” — but Spitzer is a tough cookie, and he has a track record of making sh*t happen. I don’t doubt that any of his initiatives won’t make it into law.

  5. reesebw says:

    After doing an extensive research paper for a White Collar Crime class I took on the AIG/Marsh/Insurance Industry bid-rigging fraud I have gained so much respect for Spitzer when he was the Attorney. This is a guy that took a case that should have been a federal investigation when almost no other attorney general in America would have done so. He was highly aggressive and able to oust former CEO Hank Greenberg and the CEO of Marsh. In place he was able to put his former mentor into the role of the CEO for Marsh and cause AIG to pay a $1.6 billion settlement for their damages.

    The laws may not be that different from legislation elsewhere that was ineffective, but Spitzer himself is a whole other beast.

  6. Scott says:

    Governor Steamroller has a reputation alright… that of an arrogant, spoiled rich boy. And now that he has his hands full, defending himself & his aides from the “alleged” misuse of the New York State Police, for political purposes (to smear the name of a rival), I doubt he’ll get much of anything done this year…

  7. JohnMc says:

    Oh God! This is choice! This is the same guy who does not have the political guts to face Sheldon Silver down and get a law passed to protect children from RAPE. So he goes after lead?

    What a weasel!

  8. Silverage says:

    I am a 38 year old pharmacist, married, father of 2 year old twins. In the pharmacy, I see all the “scams” the drug companies and PBM’s pull everyday. I would love to be a commenter. Wish I could offer something amusing, but it’s late and I’m tired.

  9. Silverage says:

    Spitzer?!?! This is a joke. After getting caught using “secret polce tacticts” against another NY politician, he is saying ANYTHING he can to try to look good. Remember folks, this is the SAME man who as Attorney General, sued a company called Express Scripts for millions for “defrauding New York”, and now as Gov. has handed them an account worth MILLIONS. Go figure.

  10. mconfoy says:

    How many terms do you think Spritzer will serve as governor of NY before running for president? Two or three?