Topic: Recent legislation and regulations

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Delaware expects retailers with unclaimed gift card balances to pay up

Gift card statutes governing expiration dates and inactivity fees already pose cumbersome regulations for retailers. But gift card sellers should be wary of another source of regulation: state escheatment laws.

In the ongoing case State of Delaware ex rel. French v. Card Compliant, LLC, et al., Delaware asserts that unclaimed gift card balances belong to the state. In December, the federal district court remanded the case back to the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, New Castle, rendering defendants’ dismissal motions moot.

Many states have escheatment laws, which provide for abandoned or unclaimed property to escheat, or … Continue Reading

Quick update: CA Consumer Product Emissions Survey Portal opens

The data submission portal for the California Air Resources Board Consumer Products Survey is now open.

In connection with the portal opening, ARB has posted a number of helpful video modules that walk through the submission process.

The Board has also posted an FAQ containing a compilation of the questions. The modules cover:

  • setup
  • information entry for responsible parties, formulators, and fragrance formulators
  • product grouping
  • product information (both direct entry and importing data)
  • product formulations (both direct entry and importing data)
  • reviewing entered data and certifying the information
  • submission of confidential formulator information (for formulators to submit formulations/ingredients that are
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FDA calorie and nutrition labels foreshadow possible global standards

The US Food and Drug Administration finalized its rules requiring the listing of calorie information on menus and menu boards of certain food sellers. The rules apply to chains with at least 20 units operating under the same name (irrespective of the ownership structure) and vending machines with at least 20 locations.

The new rules implement requirements in Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010), and are part of the government’s effort to fight obesity. They will pre-empt existing state laws covering the same types of foods and establishments, unless the state laws areidentical to … Continue Reading

Countdown begins on the California Consumer Product Emissions Survey

We are just two short weeks away from the opening of data submission for the California Air Resources Board Consumer Products Survey.

Although the survey formally launched in September, ARB has continued to work on its submission tool and providing guidance to industry on compliance in order to begin accepting survey data once the ball drops in Times Square. On December 15, 2014, the Board held another webinar including an overview of frequently asked questions and further information on uploading survey data.

The webinar provided an overview of the Consumer Products Survey requirements and timeline (the key date is … Continue Reading

Gift card regulations pose daunting compliance challenges

Gift cards are a mainstay of retail sales, especially during the holidays when frantic shoppers are looking for easy, last-minute gift solutions.

Retailers often benefit from regulating gift certificates and gift cards by adding expiration dates and dormancy fees. But in many states, these practices can run afoul of consumer protection statutes.

Restrictions on gift card policies

The federal CARD Act establishes restrictions on gift cards, including prohibiting card expiration earlier than five years after purchase. The regulation also prohibits dormancy fees, unless the gift card has not been used for at least one year, and the fees are not … Continue Reading

Lights out! New mercury-containing light fee about to take effect in Washington

After a series of false starts, Washington’s mercury-containing lights product stewardship law will take effect on January 1, 2015.

Under the law, all mercury-containing lights sold in the state of Washington must include a product stewardship fee to finance their environmental handling and recycling.

Producers, wholesalers and retailers are prohibited from selling mercury-containing lights for residential use unless the producer is a registered participant of an approved product stewardship plan. The product stewardship plans ensure that everyone involved in the lifecycle of a product—from manufacture to retail to use and disposal—shares the cost of product management.

The dispute over

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Proposition 65: OEHHA’S proposed revisions to warning regulations

In March 2014, OEHHA began the rulemaking process to amend the Clear and Reasonable Warning requirements for California’s Proposition 65. The proposed changes caused a great deal of concern for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers doing business in California. On September 23, 2014, OEHHA circulated a revised draft to some of the stakeholders. While the proposed changes appear to be an improvement on the March edition, there still are some significant concerns in the business community. Here are highlights of the September draft.

Safe harbor warnings

The current Prop 65 warning regulation, in effect since 1989, provides a generic description … Continue Reading

Unhappy Thanksgiving: Don’t let Maine children’s product reporting deadline spoil your turkey

Perhaps as a reminder to manufacturers and importers of just how difficult the winter of 1621 was for the pilgrims, the day after Thanksgiving is the reporting deadline for certain children’s products containing cadmium, mercury, or arsenic under the Maine Safer Chemicals in Children’s Products Act (38 M.R.S. § 1691 et seq.).

Unlike the Washington Children’s Safe Product Act, which requires reporting on a plethora of chemicals, the Maine Act only requires reporting after the Department of Environmental Protection identifies a chemical as a “priority chemical” and specifies the children’s product categories for which reporting is required.

The … Continue Reading

UPDATE: California agency issues guidance on new furniture flammability labeling law

Updating our prior discussion on California’s new labeling law regarding flame retardants in furniture, the California Bureau of Electronics & Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) has issued industry guidance and an FAQ expressing the Bureau’s understanding of the requirements.

The industry guidance is brief, confirming that the labeling law becomes effective January 1, 2015 (consistent with California’s new flammability requirements) and provides the following examples of labels:blog photo

The FAQ is more detailed, providing guidance on questions regarding scope, timing, documentation, and labeling details, with key points set forth below.

Specifically, the FAQ:

  • states that the requirements does
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Update on California Consumer Product Emissions Survey

Updating our prior discussion of the California Air Resources Board Consumer Products Survey, ARB continues to forge ahead with the 2013 consumer products survey, providing additional guidance to industry.

On October 14, 2014, the Board published an updated FAQ and information on updates to the survey data upload tool, CPRT. The Board also updated the survey and CPRT instructions, providing a summary of changes.

Following these updates, on October 15, ARB held a webinar to address questions from the public regarding compliance. The Board will hold another webinar on December 15, 2014 to review the process for uploading … Continue Reading

E-cigarette flavor found to contain chemical associated with lung disease

A recent investigation conducted by the BBC has concluded that an e-cigarette flavoring purchased in Northeast England contained a potentially harmful chemical that has been associated with the lung condition known as “popcorn worker’s lung.”

The British television program, Inside Out, purchased four liquid refills for the e-cigarettes and sent them for laboratory testing. While three of the refills came back without indication of harmful chemicals, the fourth (a butterscotch flavoring) contained a chemical called diacetyl.

Diacetyl is a yellow/green liquid with an intense butter flavor. The chemical occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages, but is also used as a … Continue Reading

California remains on forefront of US human trafficking regulation

California continued its commitment to combatting human trafficking, as Governor Jerry Brown recently signed seven new anti-trafficking laws during the 2014 legislative session.

While the majority of these laws focus on criminal activity (for example, increasing criminal penalties and expanding the reach of law enforcement in cases of trafficking), SB 477 adds to California legislation addressing human trafficking in California supply chains. California hosts approximately 130,000 temporary foreign workers annually, about 14% of the nationwide total.

Effective July 1, 2016 SB 477, or the California Foreign Labor Recruitment Law, requires contractors who hire foreign labor to register with the California … Continue Reading

California labeling law complements furniture flammability changes

In conjunction with changes to California upholstered furniture flammability regulations, commonly referred to as TB-117, the state recently enacted complementary legislation requiring that furniture “law labels” disclose whether the products contain flame retardant chemicals.

California’s flammability requirements

Prior to 2014, California flammability requirements for upholstered furniture, set forth in California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation Technical Bulletin 117, or TB 117, required open flame testing on filling materials, an aggressive test that is difficult to pass without the use of chemical flame retardants.

Effective January 1, 2014, BHFTI updated TB 117 (now known as TB 117-2013) … Continue Reading

California Governor signs first ever state plastic bag ban

California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed the nation’s first state plastic bag ban into law on September 30, 2014. The law prohibits “stores”—supermarkets, groceries, retail stores that sell food or contain pharmacies, and convenience stores that also sell liquor—from providing single-use carryout bags to customers at the point of sale.

It also requires that stores offer reusable grocery bags for sale, and it establishes a certification program to ensure that only reusable grocery bags meeting California’s performance requirements are available. The ban goes into effect on July 1, 2015 for supermarkets and pharmacies, and then July 1, 2016 for convenience stores.… Continue Reading

OEHHA signals reforms to Proposition 65 regulations

In the wake of the Governor Brown’s failed effort to get substantive Proposition 65 reform, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assert (OEHHA) signaled that it is still interested in reforming the law by revising the regulations under its jurisdiction. On September 16, 2014, OEHHA issued a request for public comment on changes it is considering, including:

  • modifications to the alternative risk levels for chemicals in foods
  • updates to the “Naturally Occurring” regulation, which states that human consumption of food is not an exposure under Prop 65 if the chemical is naturally occurring in that food
  • streamlining the
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New California consumer product emissions survey launched

On September 2, 2014, the California Air Resources Board launched its 2013 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey. The Survey requires “Responsible Parties” to report ingredient information, including the volatile organic compound (VOC) composition, for impacted consumer products sold in California from 2013-2015.  Impacted products range from air fresheners to antiperspirants to hair care products. ARB will use the data it receives to update its VOC emissions inventory in preparation for a new State Implementation Plan in 2016 that meets federal EPA air quality standards.  It will also use the data to evaluate the feasibility of further reducing VOC emissions from … Continue Reading

Senate creates confusion with recall reporting bill

Senator Richard Blumenthal has introduced legislation, S.2615, known as the “Hide No Harm Bill,” that adds criminal liability to existing penalties for a company’s failure to immediately report to the applicable federal agency a known danger caused by a product.  While the language of S.2615 does not single out any particular product, if passed, its greatest impact will likely be on the automotive and consumer products industries.

S.2615 applies to any product “manufactured, assembled, designed, researched, imported, or distributed” in interstate commerce.  The bill mandates reporting to the federal agency with jurisdiction over a product within 24 hours of a … Continue Reading