Igniting a New Passion For American Business
Along with many colleagues, I have been advocating against passage of the draft of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 for many months. While that particular draft law impacts cosmetics, food, drugs and drug devices, it also offers a snapshot of the plight of small businesses across the nation.
This is not just about cosmetics!!
For example, federal laws passed in August impose new laws on all toy manufacturers. While the new laws rightly require toy manufacturers to use safe materials to make toys, the truth is that the law imposes other onerous requirements on all toy manufacturers — large and small – without any regard for the fact that the small companies were not using hazardous materials to start with. You can read all about it at the website of the Handmade Toy Alliance.
Do you see the connection? This is not just about cosmetics!! It's about small and family owned businesses all across our nation. With that in mind, I have several items of interest to report to you with regard to the FDA Globalization Act of 2008.
1. New Committee Chair and Staff
Virgil Miller, the Professional Staffer in the House Energy & Commerce Committee where the draft cosmetics law originated, confirmed that, due to the transition of chairmanship of the Committee from Rep. Dingell (his boss) to Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) after last month's elections, after Virgil's last day on December 31, a new staffer in Rep. Waxman's office will be assigned to handle issues associated with the draft law. He gave me her name and suggested I contact her in a few weeks, so that's what I will do. It seems quite possible (I will not say "likely") that the current draft is no longer in play.
2. Possible New Draft Legislation
But don't get too excited. While that would be good news, I must also report that it appears that Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL) plans to circulate new draft cosmetics legislation in the very near future. I spoke with Dana Thomas, a staffer in Rep. Schakowski's office this morning. Dana confirmed that a new draft is under discussion. She declined to provide a time frame for when it might be made public, except to say it was "not likely to be within the next 14 days." She asked for my email address so she could notify me of any updates. She also invited me to call her every week or so to inquire about any change in status. I will do that and post updates here.
3. Campaign For Safe Cosmetics
In a conversation last week with the legislative advocate for an organization called Campaign For Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group, I discovered that those organizations have been in contact with Rep. Schakowski's office for months to provide "input" into the draft legislation. This was a surprise to me since I have been speaking by phone with Campaign representatives for months in an effort to explore possible common ground and advocacy points, and no one ever mentioned it.
As a result of this new knowledge, it is my intention to work closely as always with Indie Beauty Network members, the Handcrafted Soap Maker's Guild, Essential Wholesale and others to ensure that the unique position of micro-cosmetic manufacturers is a part of the discussion at every stage of the process. Along with these organizations and all IBN members, we are working to implement a coordinated strategy which includes not only Rep. Schakowsky but also the transition team of President-Elect Barack Obama.
We must have a seat at the table.
I will leave no stone unturned to ensure that all interested parties are clear that our products are safe and that, to the extent any new legislation is necessary, it must be narrowly tailored to accomplish specific pro-consumer goals without unduly burdening small businesses.
Here are some things you can do as we look forward to continuing our battle.
1. Be Vigilant. Be on the lookout for any news articles, press releases, newsletters and other reports having to do with the issue of cosmetics legislation, or any other kind of legislation that would impose senseless burdensome requirements on small business ownerrs. Stay tuned to this blog and others (see list below) for updates of interest. If you come across any news you'd like to share, feel free to forward anything to me at donnamaria at indiebeauty dot com or leave a comment at the blog.
2. Be Prepared. Be prepared to tell your story to local news outlets, reporters and radio stations when new draft legislation is made public. Start collecting the contact persons now so that when the time comes, you can pick up the phone or send an email to alert traditional media outlets about how the proposed law will impact your business. If you think it would be helpful for me to host a live video chat about how to draft a media pitch on this topic, leave a comment to that effect below and I will schedule one.
3. Don't Panic. Yes, we are concerned. No, we are not going to panic. Based on what is now happening in the toy industry, the entire nation can see first-hand the consequences of passing laws that do not consider the unique circumstances of very small companies. Small and large companies may make similar products in the same industry, but our small businesses operate very differently from large corporations and those differences must be acknowledged and accounted for in any legislation that passes. Period. Gone are the days of sweeping, one-size-fits-all legislation. The time has come for America's real small businesses! So pull up a chair and have a seat!
Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, post your comments and questions below.
This is truly a team effort. If you know of other informative posts, please include them in the comments section below. Let's join forces to ensure the future of small businesses everywhere!
Question: How can I help you prepare to take action when the time comes?