State Government Declares War on Toys

With a sweeping new bill signed into law by Christine Gregoire on Tuesday, Washington State’s government has officially declared war on children’s toys.

House Bill 2647 uses the guise of implementing the world’s strictest toy safety standards to execute what will effectively become a statewide ban on fun.

“Kids these days have way, way too much fun,” said Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, one of the bill’s sponsors. “We must put a stop to the out-of-control enjoyment of today’s babies, toddlers, children, and youth,” she explained, “what better way to do that than under the pretext of safety?”

The bill states in part that “no retailer may knowingly sell or offer for sale in this state a children’s product containing” followed by a bunch of boring technical junk about lead, cadmium, and phthalates—wait, phthalates? Is that even a word?

Toy makers such as Hasbro and Mattel have stated that due to the prohibitive costs of testing toys to such a strict standard, most of their products will simply not be sold in Washington State once this law goes into effect. “Good. That is precisely what we were aiming for,” said Dickerson. “I hope that down the road we can change that from ‘most products’ to ‘all products.'”

The legislation takes effect on July 1 2009, which gives local retail stores just over a year to determine new uses for their soon-to-be defunct toy sections. “Our preliminary plan is to use the space to expand our selection of weapons and extreme sporting goods,” said Target spokesperson Reba Hathaway.

Local retailers that deal exclusively in toys will have to be more creative in order to remain in business. Iconic Seattle institution Archie McPhee has announced that they will either be going out of business or simply re-labeling their merchandise as “grown-up novelty items” rather than “toys.” The latter plan may be difficult to pull off, given their diverse inventory of such popular children’s playthings as green bottles, amber bottles, large muffin fans, Obsessive Compulsive action figures (with sanitary, hypoallergenic moist towelette), Horrified B-Movie Victims, and bacon wallets.

Reaction to the bill among the state’s children was generally not positive. “I like him toy,” said Bobby Jackson, 3. “Why are they going to take away my toys,” wondered Rachel Stevens, 8, before bursting into tears. “No take toy,” exclaimed Matthew Kemper, 5, as he kicked the interviewer in the shin.

Local parents were largely supportive of the new law. “I definitely don’t like the thought of my kids playing with dangerous chemicals, don’t get me wrong,” said Sarah Jackson, “but the best part about this is that with no more toys on the shelves, I stand to save a ton of money.” “Besides,” she added, “all little Bobby ever does is sit around staring at the TV anyway.”

“I’m really proud of what we have been able to achieve with this bill,” said Dickerson. “We face a lot of basically impossible challenges in the legislature, like fighting global warming and balancing the budget, so it’s nice to head home with this win against childhood merriment—I mean unsafe toys.”

About the Author

Ash Grimm
Naked Loon Political Reporter

4 Comments on "State Government Declares War on Toys"

  1. Those Nazis.

  2. This is going to make raising children so much easier!!!

  3. This is a really stupid post. Why should moms have to be chemical engineers to go shopping for their kids? The way that regulations work today allow all sorts of dangerous chemicals to be in products sold for children. Is that what you want? Do you want to require moms to know the toxicology of phthalates and bisphenol A? Why not have public health standards that incorporate modern science, instead of concepts from previous centuries? Let’s let moms focus on daily demands, and make sure that what they are buying is safe.

  4. monkeygoggles | July 4, 2008 at 6:15 pm |

    The beautifully branded “toxic toy bill” (for who could be for toxic toys?–certainly not me or anyone else)is yet another bill sponsored by the Queen of Looney legislation in Washington state, Ballard’s own Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson.

    Dickerson has made a career of promoting bills that waste time and resources, because if even some do pass, they would likely be ruled illegal by the courts, such as her bill to allow video game makers to be sued by victims of criminals, if the criminal proved to be a video game player. Some other Dickerson originated bills:

    Requiring written authorization to display human remains for a commercial purpose.

    Banning blinds with cords from day care centers

    Restricting unsolicited direct mail marketing.

    A law forcing government contractors with health care programs to pay for chiropractors

    Making sure manicurists go through a 600 hour apprenticeship. The manicurist bill takes five times more space to define “manicurist,” than the toxic toy bill does to define “toy.”

    Protecting animals from perpetrators of domestic violence.

    See all of Rep. Dickerson’s sponsored bills here: http://www1.leg.wa.gov/House/Dickerson/SponsoredBills.htm

    The toxic toy bill, HR 2647, was sponsored, along with Dickerson, by Representatives Hudgins, Hunt, Morrell, Pedersen, Williams, Cody, Green, Campbell, VanDeWege, Hasegawa, Roberts, Loomis, Upthegrove, Liias, Hunter, Chase, Smith, McIntire, Barlow, Conway, Priest, Schual-Berke, Simpson, Kenney, Goodman, Sells, Rolfes, Darneille and Lantz.

    Do you think a single politician actual read it? No, because regardless of the content, no one could risk being on record as in favor of toxic toys, including Governor Gregoire. The House passed the bill 92 to 2. Oh, Christine—and I thought you were one of the few sane ones in Olympia. What weak and pathetic people we have elected to lead us.

    The bill was cobbled together from the positions of various fringe groups with nice, feel-good names, that nobly describe themselves “non-profit,” and who always find help from Rep. Dickerson.

    The original bill didn’t even have correct math—-I doubt if anyone involved in the bill’s drafting and any of the politicians who voted it for it know the difference in parts per million vs. per billion in decimal form (what does 999,000,000 matter to a politician?) or knows what phthalates actually are or how to pronounce it.

    The regulations are nutty—–to theoretically have something harmful take place, a child would somehow have to consume and metabolize truckload after truckload of vinyl duckies that may contain a tiny amount of a phthalate softening agent. How likely it this to happen? How could it happen? Grind all those ducks up in a blender and force-feed them to children every day for 50 years?

    The bill usurps the authority of the U. S. Congress, which has toy safety regulations in place, and violates the will of the Founding Fathers, who clearly sought to prohibit individual states from interfering with trade between states.

    The U S Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov/) is already established to enforce product safety. I do not understand the current opinion of some that the Commission is ineffective—-that comes from the propaganda put out by fringe groups and is not based on the facts. CPSC has been effective for decades in ensuring product safety—look at the record on this. With recent increases in budget and mandate, it has even more power.

    If new and different safety regulations are truly needed, the decision needs to be based on science, not hysteria, and it needs to be done on a national level, in a coherent way, and not isolated to one looney state acting alone in the northwest corner of the nation.

    There is not anyone, anywhere, least of all the toy industry, that wants to foist toxic products onto children. We have all read about the toy recalls in the past year ordered by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Those items were effectively taken off the market. There is no record of any serious or measurable harm to children from those products that were pulled for material content level violations.

    I agree lead exposure is dangerous. Lead is already is severely limited or banned in huge variety of products, as it should be. The new phthalates restrictions, however, which are in almost everything everywhere that is plastic, in minute amounts, and has been used for fifty years, makes no sense.

    Do you think the little state of Washington will better at ensuring toy safety than an experienced Federal agency with vast powers of enforcement in every state? Where is the money and expertise coming from to expand the state bureaucracy to enforce this unique and extreme set of rules? The bill will make Washington, one state out of 50, a goofy, black sheep, where products that are legal everywhere else, are banned or not sold, out of fear of being in violation of complex and onerous regulations.

    The bill makes no allowance for the personal choice, enjoyment and trade in collectible toys and novelties from the past, which are not meant for nor should they be given to children. They sit on people’s shelves and to be looked at and are not meant to be mouthed or eaten by kids. The 1950s Japanese tin robot that is worth $300 that you found at a flea market–it has sharp edges (danger to children!) and it may have chemical levels that exceed current standards for children’s toys–do not give it to a two year old to play with and please do not go crazy and eat it yourself.

    The bill has no allowance of the inventories of products in Washington State that would be made illegal overnight, because there is no definitive provenance possible with older toys for collectors—yet those toys will be legal in the other 49 states. The cost and time to test all the small amounts of old stock is impossible. The bill is vague–there is no clear definition of “toy” or what ages are meant by the word, “child,” is it 3 and under or is it 5, or 9, or 12, or 15 or 18?

    It is an opening for looney groups to go on a rampage of righteousness and punishment against legal toy stores, companies and toy collectors. These new Puritans hate it that other people might choose to like things that differ from their taste and their own rigid worldview of what one should have and a blind conformity to political correctness.

    There are products and substances in our world that are actually and measurably harmful based on verifiable facts—-from certain common household products, to plants in the home and yard, to medicines and supplements in the bathroom to garden supplies to unlocked handguns—-children should not be allowed to handle, eat or put those things in their mouths.

    Is there not a point where parents and adults can accept the responsibility of keeping potentially bad things away from children? Moreover, if a parent is concerned about product safety—-how about not buying those products they are not absolutely comfortable with?

    Shouldn’t reaction to danger be related to the actual likelihood of the danger taking pace? This extreme focus and action against rubber ducks, tin robots and Sigmund Freud action figures, relative to the real and verifiable danger of breathing dirty urban air, drunk driving, global warming, access to handguns and to exceeding the recommended dose of Tylenol (“best estimate of the average number of deaths per year related to acetaminophen is 458…Acetaminophen is the leading cause of toxic drug ingestions in the U.S.” –Peter Lurie, MD, MPH)—makes no sense.

    The bill was written by people who have no knowledge of the toy industry and do not want any. The bill is currently being revised (even the Governor could not stomach it as it was written, although she did sign it, with unclear revision requirements), in some mysterious process behind closed doors by a committee selected by Governor.

    The Governor has refused any input or help in clarifying the bill and correcting the contradictions from industry experts–people who really know this stuff, nor is there any input from the vast experience of the Federal authorities or expert staff from the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Who knows what formal form Mary Lou’s Monster will finally take?

    Representative Dickerson and Governor Gregoire do not want what is scientifically sound for the citizens; they want to score cheap and easy emotional points from the voters, who will no doubt re-elect them.

    It is our own, wacky Northwest version of Creationalism/Intelligent Design—in the sense of overwhelming people in a sweet, sticky molasses of emotional zingers and buzzwords, such labeling legal products as “toxic” and calling toy vendors baby killers, while clearly avoiding any basis of sound science and common sense, in their maniacal quest to triumph over reason and thoughtfulness.

    As it says so perfectly in the fake quotation above:

    “I’m really proud of what we have been able to achieve with this bill, said Dickerson. We face a lot of basically impossible challenges in the legislature, like fighting global warming and balancing the budget, so it’s nice to head home with this win against childhood merriment—I mean unsafe toys.”

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