Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124
03/13/2020 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 27-REGULATION OF FLAME RETARDANT CHEMICALS 3:27:43 PM CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 27, "An Act relating to the manufacture, sale, distribution, and labeling of child-related products containing certain flame retardant chemicals; relating to an interstate chemicals clearinghouse; adding unlawful acts to the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act; and providing for an effective date." 3:28:05 PM KARLA HART, Staff, Representative Geran Tarr, Alaska State Legislature, provided an overview of HB 27, on behalf of Representative Tarr, prime sponsor. She stated that the bill regulates flame retardants. She noted that its similar to an Anchorage law that was passed last year provided there are several differences. She said that Anchorage bans all flame retardants above 1000 parts per million, while HB 27 bans all levels of flame retardants. HB 27 bans a class of organohalogenated chemicals and antimony, whereas Anchorage goes further by linking with laws in Washington and California. Furthermore, HB 27 bans toys and electronic products that are primarily used in the home and removes child seats from the definition of covered items; however, the industry is interpreting the bill as if child restraint systems are covered. She stated that the civil penalties are also slightly different. HB 27 has no enforcement provisions, which makes the penalties fairly cosmetic, she said. The bill still allows the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to participate in the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse if they desire; however, there are no appropriated funds for that. She said if DEC would like to participate, dues for the clearinghouse are $2000 for the state population at this time. She further noted that HB 27 has no labeling requirement and does not require the retention of records to prove that products do not contain the prohibited flame retardants. CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ asked for Ms. Hart to email a comparison between the Anchorage ordinance and HB 27. MS. HART directed attention to several documents on the members desks. 3:32:16 PM REPRESENTATIVE GILLIS questioned whether HB 27 would conflict with federal laws pertaining to flame retardants. MS. HART answered no. She explained that currently, there are no federal laws pertaining to flame retardants, which is why the states and municipalities are acting. 3:32:59 PM CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ opened public testimony. 3:33:17 PM BEN GANN, Director, American Chemistry Council, informed the committee that he is representing the American Chemistry Councils North American Flame Retardant Alliance (NAFRA). He addressed three issues with the legislation. First, he said, a class-based approach to regulating flame retardants is not consistent with the current state of the science because not all flame retardants are the same. He explained that a variety of flame retardants are necessary because the materials that need to be made fire resistant are different in their physical nature and chemical composition, as are the end use performance requirements of the final product. Second, HB 27 would remove the possibility for manufacturers and product designers to use new innovative and sustainable products in the research and development pipeline that has not yet come to market and could be essential to helping these fire standards in the future. He said Alaska should not permanently eliminate the possibility of using new flame retardant technologies that could help save lives and property from fire. Third, he stated that flame retardants are reviewed for their safety by regulators around the world. He said this legislation would ban substances that government regulators have already determined do not present a risk. HB 27 falls short of the scientific standard by presuming that these flame retardant chemicals cannot, under any circumstances, be safely used in consumer products. To conclude, he said the approach outlined in HB 27 runs contrary to sound science, is openly broad, discourages development of innovative new flame retardants to meet product safety standards, ignores safety determinations made by regulatory authorities, and may increase fire safety risk. 3:36:40 PM LAUREN AGUILAR, Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, stated that her critical concern with HB 27 is its deviation from the Anchorage city ordinance. She said the approach in HB 27 would have negative impacts with internal and inaccessible electronic and electrical components of products, as well as car seats. She opined that the Anchorage ordinance is a reasonable approach for juvenile products. She expressed her interest in amending HB 27 to be consistent with that approach. She added that if HB 27 is passed in its current form there will be a broad ban on lifesaving juvenile products that require flame retardants to meet safety and performance standards. She requested that the committee contemplate the negative consequences of HB 27 in its current form and consider amendments to make it fully consistent with the Anchorage ordinance if it is to move forward. 3:39:56 PM PAMELA MILLER, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, conveyed three key messages in support of HB 27. She said that toxic flame retardants do not provide proven fire safety benefits and fire safety standards can be met without them. She noted that the bill has the support of diverse organizations, including those representing firefighters, such as the Fire Chiefs Association. She offered her belief that Alaska has an opportunity to build on the foundation of the landmark Anchorage ordinance and to protect the health of all Alaskans. 3:42:32 PM CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ asked if electronic products and child restraint systems should be included or excluded. MS. MILLER shared her belief that both product categories present a hazard to children. Nonetheless, said noted that there are car seats that meet fire safety standards without the use of flame retardant chemicals. She reiterated her interest in passing a bill that is substantively similar to the Anchorage ordinance. She suggested the inclusion of three product categories: toys, electronics, and car restraint systems. 3:44:22 PM GRANT JOHNSON, Policy & Government Affairs Coordinator, International Sleep Products Association, urged the committee to vote no on HB 27 or to amend the legislation to address existing flaws. He explained that the bill would prohibit the use of antimony trioxide, which is an important ingredient in some materials used in mattresses to help manufacturers meet federal mattress flammability standards. He provided a detailed explanation of federal flammability standards administered by the CPSC [Consumer Product Safety Commission]. He urged the committee to vote no on HB 27 or amend the bill to strike the reference to antimony trioxide and exclude products that must meet the open flame mattress standard set by the CPSC from its scope. 3:49:06 PM SUSAN INGLIS, Executive Director, Sustainable Furnishings Council, explained that the Sustainable Furnishings Council is an organization of companies involved in residential furnishings and committed to sustainability. She reported findings from consumer research and urged the passage of HB 27. She reiterated that chemicals leech out of products exposing people to harmful toxins that are directly related to a range of health problems including various cancers, endocrine system disruption, and more. 3:53:29 PM CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ closed public testimony. 3:53:37 PM REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR, Alaska State Legislature, prime sponsor of HB 27, directed attention to a document on members desks addressing workplace safety issues for first responders and potential health impacts for people inside their homes. She reported that currently, 75 percent of mattresses do not use antimony. She added that the removal [of antimony] is consistent with the Anchorage ordinance. CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ expressed her concern about firefighters facing a higher risk of some cancers compared to the general public. 3:55:34 PM REPRESENTATIVE STORY asked how this legislation differs from the Anchorage ordinance. REPRESENTATIVE TARR acknowledged that there are reasons to be concerned about the flame retardants used in electronics as well as car seats; however, in considering safe alternatives and pushing policy, those products were included to encourage a conversation and to educate people on the health risks associated with exposure to them. 3:57:31 PM CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced that HB 27 would be held over.