President Leigh O'Donnell, Debbie May and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)
During the week of February 8th, I visited our nation’s capital for scheduled meetings with several Republican and Democratic lawmakers representing Districts from New York to California. I was joined by HSMG member and supporter, Debbie May of Wholesale Supplies Plus. Led by our Washington, D.C. advocates Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo, over the course of two days we met with twelve Congressional offices to gather information, express our concerns, and educate Members of Congress and their staff about the impact the Safe Cosmetics Act would have on the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and the industry.
Of particular interest was our meeting with the Congressional staff of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) and Congressman Ed Markey (MA-7) who were the lead cosponsors of last year’s Safe Cosmetics Act (H.R. 5786)
. Joining us at this meeting was Donna Maria Coles Johnson of The Indie Beauty Network
. Our meeting was productive and afforded us the opportunity to convey our concerns regarding the legislation and clarify directly to staff some of the unintended consequences the Safe Cosmetics Act would have on the handcrafted soapmaking industry. Furthermore, we learned that Congresswoman Schakowsky intends to introduce a revised version of the Safe Cosmetics Act in the 112th Congress sometime in the late Spring. The timing of our visit enabled us to offer input and guidance as to how the bill can be improved upon to ensure the vitality of our industry. Equally important, we were told that we can expect an ongoing dialogue as the bill is drafted.
President Leigh O'Donnell with Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-20)
Another key meeting was with the legislative assistant for FDA and health issues to Congressman John Dingell, the former Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
Congressman Dingell has a keen interest in advancing safe cosmetics legislation, but is also committed to provisions to adequately accommodate small manufacturers, their businesses and the workers they employ. We and our Washington advocates were very pleased by Congressman Dingell’s position and will continue to work with his office to promote the interests of HSMG members and the necessary protections for their businesses.
I left D.C. encouraged that our meetings on Capitol Hill were effective and that we communicated a clear message on how harmful previously introduced Safe Cosmetics Act would be to the handcrafted soapmaking industry. Although our message was well received, we will and must continue to remain focused on educating Members of Congress and their staff on our industry and how additional regulation would be burdensome to thousands of small businesses across the country. Furthermore, the meetings were enormously valuable in making Members of Congress aware of the handcrafted soapmaking industry, the professional and safe standards that the HSMG actively promotes within the industry and the economic contributions each and every HSMG member makes in their local community.
President Leigh O'Donnell and Donna Maria Coles Johnson of The Indie Beauty Network
Rest assured that while I am not in Washington, D.C., our government relations team of Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo will continue to advocate on our behalf by meeting with Members and staff on this important issue and monitoring the latest developments on the Safe Cosmetics Act as well as other issues affecting the industry. Along with our team in D.C., I am committed to making sure the U.S. Congress knows and understands our industry and that we want and deserve a seat at the table should any legislation move forward.
For more information on our legislative advocacy position and efforts, please visit our Legislative Advocacy web pages here.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.