Earlier this week, I posted that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health will hold hearings on September 13, 2011, on two cosmetics bills. You can see the full list of bills that will be taken up on that day here. (The cosmetics bill numbers are highlighted.)
The purpose of this post is to inform you about how you can participate in the hearings, either in person or in advance by meeting or correspondence, so your voice is heard. Important Note: if either of these bill becomes law, they will apply to cosmetics manufacturers who sell cosmetics to consumers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, even if those cosmetics are not actually made in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
If you would like to meet with a staffer in the office of a bill sponsor, you can contact them to do so as follows: For H1513: An Act Relative To Healthy Cosmetics, Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D), and for H2361: An Act Relative to Safe Cosmetics in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Rep. Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R).
You can set up an in person meeting or a conference call meeting by contacting their offices and requesting one.
If you wish to write to the Committee on Public Health in advance of the hearings to express your position on the bill(s) in writing, send your letter(s) to:
The Honorable Jeffrey Sanchez, House Chair
The Honorable Susan C. Fargo, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Public Health
State House, Room 130
Boston, MA 02133
You can send the same letter to both chairpersons, but they must be sent separately because they do not share an office. If you'd prefer not to use snail mail, you may fax or email your correspondence as follows:
Email: susan.fargo [at] masenate [dot] gov
Fax: (617) 626-0898
Email: kate-marieroycroft [at] mahouse.gov
Fax: (617) 722-2002
Two bills are pending: H1513 and H2361. These talking points deal specifically with the more detailed of the two bills, H2361. While IBN has not taken a position on either bill, here are some talking points you may wish to consider as you contemplate how these bills, if passed into law, may impact your business. You can use these points to craft letters of your own, meet with staffers, or craft your own testimony for the September 13 hearings. (Remember, you do not have to register for the hearings. The hearing starts at 10:00 at the Massachusetts State House, located at 24 Beacon St, Boston, Massachusetts 02108. To participate, just arrive on time (early is better), sign in to testify, be seated and wait for your name to be called. Testimony is generally limited to 3 minutes or so.)
- HR 2356: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 is now pending in Congress. That bill addresses all of the same issues that are addressed in H2361, and then some. There may be no need to pass state specific cosmetics legislation when federal legislation that contains many of the same types of requirements is currently under discussion. Why not wait and see what passes at the federal level before passing a state specific law that regulates the exact same products.
- A Patchwork Quilt. If H2361 becomes law, consider how having to learn about and follow federal law, and then learn about and follow the Massachusetts law, and potentially 49 other state laws, could impact your business. A small business owner often has a handful just keeping up with the comprehensive federal cosmetics laws. Having to consult and comply with a patchwork quilt of laws in multiple jurisdictions, and a the federal level — in order to legally sell the exact same product nationwide and in Massachusetts — could present special unfair challenges for small companies.
- Commission on Safe Cosmetics. H2361 establishes the Commission on Safe Cosmetics, which has as its main purpose to “study and report on the implementation of the Massachusetts Safe Cosmetics Act, as well as the need for additional legislation to regulate cosmetics …”, and to publish a report on those topics by July 31, 2012.
Why not establish the Commission first, and read their report, and prepare draft legislation based on that report? That process may have advantages over passing a new law first, and then studying the industry afterward, and possibly discovering that the first law needs to be amended.
The bill requires that the Commission be composed of several people, including at least one signatory to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and also one additional person appointed by the governor. If there is a need for the Commission to study the industry, it would be important to also require that at least one member of the Committee be a small cosmetics manufacturer who has not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and who is not affiliated with the Compact or any other consumer or special interest group.
- Exemptions. The particular bill exempts companies with “fewer than 100 employees or with annual aggregate sales of cosmetic products, both within and outside of Massachusetts, of less than $5,000,000 during the previous fiscal year.” While your business may fit that description, the bigger picture is still that, by passing legislation dealing with products that are already regulated by the federal government, Massachusetts sets a precedent that could ultimately lead to companies having to learn and comply with 51 separate laws in order to make, label and sell the exact same product. This would become a significant unnecessary barrier to entry and growth, especially for small businesses who want to meet Massachusetts citizens's desire for cosmetics made on a small scale.
I am told that each committee chairperson decides on a case-by-case basis whether their hearings are streamed live, and they do not announce this decision until the morning of the hearing. For those who cannot attend in person and who wish to listen or watch the proceedings live, I am told that if the decision is the live stream the proceedings, you will be able to click on the Massachusetts Legislature home page and see a link with instructions on how you can tune in. I will update this if I get better information.
There is also Massachusetts Legislature TV, which streams and archives proceedings in the Massachusetts House and Senate. The September 13 hearings do not fit that description, but I'm putting the link here anyway, just in case there's a way to find the Committee hearings through that site on the day of the proceedings.
IBN member Marla Bosworth, one of IBN's Massachusetts State Advocacy Reps, has informed me that she, Leigh O'Donnell, president of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, and Debbie May, will attend meetings with legislative staffers next week.
How To Participate
These bills are scheduled for public hearing on September 13, at the Massachusetts State House, located at 24 Beacon St, Boston, Massachusetts 02108. You can see the full list of bills that will be taken up on that day here. (The cosmetics bill numbers are highlighted.)
The hearing begins at 10:00, and you can participate in person by signing up at the beginning of the hearing to testify. You do not have to register in advance, but you do need to sign up so your name is on the list, and the clerk can call your name when it's your turn to speak. The earlier you arrive for this, the better. Your remarks will be generally limited to about 3 minutes, unless the lawmakers have questions. If you cannot appear to testify in person, you can submit a letter with your position.
If you'd like to follow this and other state regulatory issues, please join the FaceBook State Cosmetics Laws Page.
You may also wish to read Speak Out About Massachusetts HO2361, by Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale. That post covers a lot of the cosmetics ingredient issues.
Question: Well, those are the points I can think of. What did I leave out?