Legislative Update: Major Changes Coming in the U.S. House of Representatives

Now almost two weeks after the November 2, 2010 election, some of the dust is starting to settle and we are beginning to see how the Congressional landscape is going to change.

With Republicans winning more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives, the Democratic led House will move to the minority in January 2011, and the Republicans will ascend to the majority.  As the adage goes, “there is a new sheriff in town” and the agenda in the House of Representatives will be remarkably different – from Chairpersons of Committees to the legislation that is actively considered to bills that are brought to the floor for a vote.

So the key question is how will this change affect The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild?

While it is far too early to speculate on what specific legislation will be introduced, we are fairly confident that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, as introduced in July, will not be a major priority of the House Republican leadership.  Since all legislation requires the support of the leadership to get heard in Committee, passed and brought to the floor for a vote, it is most unlikely that the Safe Cosmetics Act will receive any significant Republican support.   For the members of the HSMG this is welcome news.  However, given the growing efforts of environmental organizations with their well-organized and well-funded campaigns to push for greater federal regulation of cosmetics, we still must make sure that any legislation and any add-on amendments include provisions that accommodate the handcrafted soapmaking industry.   While the passage of a single bill like the Safe Cosmetics Act would be devastating to businesses like yours, seemingly minor provisions in other food, consumer products, FDA and related bills could be equally harmful.

As your federal advocate, we are diligently watching the now developing agenda of the House of Representatives and are looking at all issue discussions that provide even the most remote possibility of developing into legislative language impacting your business.  Furthermore, we are reaching out to many re-elected Republican Members of the House and their staffs to make them aware of the HSMG, the number of businesses in their state and the economic contribution they make to communities.    Between now and the end of January, we will be making contact with the new Members to share the same message.

Our job is to make sure your Congressional leaders know about your business and your commitment to the quality of the products you make.  We are your voice in Washington and we are committed to the task, but we will need your help.  After the 112th Congress convenes in early January, we will be asking for a few minutes of your time to reach out to your own Member of Congress.   A draft letter will be forthcoming.   While we know many of the Members and will definitely get to know many of those who are coming to Washington in January, elected officials need to hear from their own constituents.   As a member of an industry operating in virtually every community in the country, you have a compelling story to tell and, if we work together, we can be sure that businesses like yours are protected.

Mary Anne Walsh & Rick Limardo

Roetzel & Andress

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