AHFA reps address regulatory concerns in Washington
August 15, 2011 | 11:36 am CDT
HIGH POINT, NC – Top staff from the American Home Furnishings Alliance recently spent two days in Washington, DC, working to keep regulators and legislators aware of key issues impacting the home furnishings industry.

Crib safety, furniture tip-over, proposed flammability regulations for upholstered furniture and compliance challenges created by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) were topics of discussion on Feb. 23, with members of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and their staffs.

"We were able to bring the commissioners up to date on AHFA's extensive efforts to provide furniture tip-over safety information to consumers through our consumer Web site," said AHFA CEO Andy Counts. "We also had the opportunity to discuss two of AHFA's top regulatory issues for 2010: CPSIA and a federal flammability standard for upholstered furniture."

Counts was joined by AHFA Vice President Bill Perdue in his meetings with the commissioners and their staff members.

On the topic of CPSIA, AHFA requested that the CPSC consider exempting composite wood products from the regulation's lead certification requirements. Unfinished solid wood is already exempt. The commissioners expressed concern over the glues and resins used in engineered wood but said they would consider the exemption if the industry could prove that lead "is not and never could be" added to the manufacturing process. Counts told the commissioners that he believed the industry could supply the information necessary and that AHFA would begin work immediately on gathering the data to file a petition for the exemption.

On Feb. 24 Counts and Perdue visited with Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), along with staff members for four additional legislators, including Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

"The first quarter of 2010 has been crammed with legislative and regulatory activity impacting the residential furniture industry," Counts said. He noted that a federal formaldehyde emission standard and other Environmental Protection Agency initiatives were high on their list of priorities to discuss with legislators. "Our ability to influence the outcome on these issues requires us to remain visible and vocal."

Members of AHFA's Board of Directors will be in Washington again later this spring. The top industry executives will fan out on Capitol Hill, meeting with legislators face-to-face to continue the dialog on important furniture industry issues.

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