Vermont governor vetoes chemicals management bill

~w2018-04-20

Vermont governor Phil Scott has vetoed a bill that would have given the state’s health department increased latitude to ban or restrict children’s products. Bill S103, passed by the legislature earlier this month, sought to amend the state’s existing children’s product reporting scheme (Act 188). Among the proposed changes were provisions making less stringent exposure and health impact criteria required to propose product restrictions or to add substances to the chemicals of concern list. The bill also aimed to codify an interagency committee on chemicals and the types of product information to be reported to the state. But the Republican governor vetoed the bill earlier this week, citing economic concerns. In a letter to the legislature, Mr Scott wrote that the bill is “duplicative to existing measures”. And he said its enactment would “jeopardise jobs and make Vermont less competitive for businesses”. The letter specifically cites objection to section 8 of the legislation – which centres around the scientific criteria underlying product bans or adding substances of concern to Act 188. Removing a reference to “weight of credible scientific evidence” for exposure requirements, he said, would make Vermont an “outlier”. Under existing law, Vermont’s department of health “asks for more information from manufacturers than any other state in America”, Mr Scott said. “These changes, in my opinion, have no practical impact to how my administration regulates these chemicals.” Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, called the governor’s move “shameful”. “There is no legitimate reason for the governor to veto a bill that would help to keep children safe from toxic chemicals,” he said. Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters, added that it was “profoundly disappointing that the governor chose to side with industry lobbyists rather than our children and communities.” But the Toy Association said it supports the governor’s veto: “There were concerning requirements buried in the bill that would have removed critical scientific criteria from existing law and eliminated important procedural mechanisms for regulating children’s products.” The bill is now returned to the state legislature, where the veto can only be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers. Further information is available at:

Chemical Watch, 19 April 2018 ; http://chemicalwatch.com

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