Legislative Update: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

The HSMG has been actively involved in advocacy for the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry for the past several years.  We have made tremendous progress during the past year in introducing and familiarizing our industry to Capital Hill with the assistance of our DC advocates Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo. HSMG  leaders have met with Members of Congress to educate them on our industry’s businesses as well as the diverse products they produce.  Most encouraging is Congress listened and took our concerns to heart.

When the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 was introduced last year, the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry was unknown in Washington, DC.  Many provisions in the 2010 bill would have negatively impacted thousands of small businesses throughout the United States.  Through our meetings with the staff of the bill sponsors, Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Edward Markey and Tammy Baldwin, we learned that the legislation was not aimed at the handcrafted soap industry.

Now, a year later, we have attended several meetings with the sponsors of the bill and many other Members of Congress.  They have listened to and heard our concerns.  There have been many positive changes, and we are very encouraged that we have such an open line of communication to see our way forward.

On June 24, 2011, a new bill, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (HR 2359), was introduced. After a detailed review of the new legislation, we  held another meeting with the bill sponsors to get clarification on some areas of concern with HR 2359 . At that meeting, held July 13th, the staff was very gracious and willing to answer our questions and, more importantly, to help us understand their intention in drafting the legislation.  We were very  encouraged to find out that many of the worries that we had were due to misinterpreting the language in the bill or not understanding the intent behind certain portions.

Based on the information provided to us and our current understanding of the bill, we support the intent of The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

During the week of July 24th, we will be placing a detailed summary of the bill on our website which will include the clarifications on issues of concern we have received from the sponsors. Until then, should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

This is far from over; the legislative process is long and includes committee hearings, amendments, mark-ups  and hearings all before the bill moves to the House floor for any vote.  The HSMG is very confident that with the relationships we have forged and with the guidance and advice of our legislative advocates, we are well positioned to have our voice heard throughout the process.  It is very important to stay involved, stay informed and above all, stay calm.  We have a seat at the table and we will continue our dialogue with the bill sponsors, committee members and others as the legislation moves forward.

Leigh O’Donnell

HSMG President

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11 Comments

  1. It is an amazing thing that the handcrafted soap industry has gone from being completely unknown in Washington DC to being considered stakeholders in cosmetic legislation! It just goes to show what taking a positive, pro-active stance can do.

  2. I hope you continue dialogue, because there are a few too many spots on that bill that make me terribly uncomfortable. Labeling issues, the impact on small businesses and how in the world are we to correctly label something and figure out the percentages of all that are in there. Then how are we to keep track of our customers and what they do to the product they bought? Will our insurance rates remain the same because someone panicked over a mosquito bite, but claim it came from yours or my product? There’s still too much that is vague in that bill and some very cumbersome details. Packaging will have to be huge just to accommodate a label for possibly a tube of lip balm. I think there will be too much to handle if this bill passes.

  3. I am happy to hear this. I have not yet begun to make soaps and other bath and body yet. I am keeping an eye on this so i will know what i can do and can’t do. thanks so much for your hard work on this matter. alot of us would not be in business if it was not for you. Thanks so very much

  4. I am so grateful to the HSMG for working tirelessly over the last year (and previous years) to help make provisions in the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 that will protect my business and the Handcrafted Soap Industry!

    THANK YOU!!

  5. Thank you for this detailed clarification, Leigh. At a time when many people do not trust our lawmakers and reject the notion of improvement to our government’s flaws, it is refreshing and encouraging to hear of HSMG’s dedication to communication with legislators in Congress towards mutual understanding. I’m excited to see this bill getting the attention it deserves from Congress, voters and business communities.

  6. Thank you for making the steps to come to an understanding of the importance of this bill and to creating the relationships that are moving it forward. Ultimately,both your industry and the consumer will benefit from creating a safer product. Setting the tone so that other companies will follow is very much appreciated.

  7. Special thanks to the Soapmakers Guild for their leadership and their willingness to come together to work on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. As an individual, Christian, mother, and supporter of the Safe Cosmetics Act your support is much appreciated.

  8. Wow, I am quite surprised by this. What about issues with listing all contaminants on the label? How will a small manufacturer know what contaminants are in there? What about the person who adds herbs from their garden to their soap? How will they know what contaminants might be there? This would require testing on their part of their water source and soil. What about giving the EWG authority to determine toxicity of various ingredients? What about cutting off the line of communication between small business and the FDA? What about the concept that everything can be an allergen in the right person? What about . . . . well, we could go on forever about this. Yes, I am surprised at your position.
    Cindy

  9. It’s so great to hear that the Soapmaker’s Guild is supporting the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. As an influential group in small business cosmetics, it’s great to hear that your concerns have been adressed fully to produce a meaningful, progressive bill which will not hurt small businesses. It says a lot about the good that can come out of the times in which legislators work with people to craft legislation.Thank you all at the Handcrafted Soapmaker’s Guild for supporting this important bill! Let’s hope for a safer future in the cosmetics industry!

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