Andy Keimach: What I’m Hearing! – Advocacy Matters

by Andy Keimach | 07 Mar 2024

Industry Commentary, Op-Ed


We recently conducted our annual survey of Toy Association members to learn about the issues that matter to their businesses. In gathering this feedback from small, medium, and large companies, our goal is to more effectively serve and protect our membership and the broader toy community.


One of the top areas of importance cited by members across all company sizes was “regulatory and advocacy” – examples of pertinent issues in the survey included: IP/counterfeits, global standards alignment, chemical regulations, children’s online privacy laws, and sustainability.


Our Global Government & Regulatory Affairs team continues to advocate on these and other emerging issues to ensure that businesses are protected, and that children’s toys remain safe. I thought I would share a roundup of a few of the issues the team is tackling – keep in mind, the areas of focus shift from week to week and month to month, depending on what is happening at various levels of government and how we need to prioritize our efforts. Our staff has a finger on the pulse of what’s coming down the pipeline and can quickly switch gears to address what is most pressing.


PFAS Legislation

Last year, both Maine and Minnesota introduced PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) legislation. The Toy Association worked with a coalition to bring about changes to the Maine legislation, which encountered multiple problems during the rulemaking phase. Changes have since been made to the program, including a delay in the implementation of the law and reporting requirements, allowing the state more time to write rules and develop the program.


Minnesota is now in the rulemaking stage to implement its own PFAS legislation, although draft rules have not yet been released. Despite the problems in Maine, at least 20 other states are also looking to follow suit this year and pass sweeping PFAS bans, including Colorado, California, Tennessee, Vermont, Illinois, and Rhode Island. Last year, our team effectively secured an amendment to a PFAS ban in Nevada, changing “children’s products” to “juvenile products,” thus ensuring toys were not included in the ban. Staff will continue actively working to improve definitions within the various pieces of legislation and limit the scope of these bills. 


Intellectual Property and Counterfeiting

The Toy Association continues advocating for the passage of the SHOP SAFE Act for marketplaces to implement proactive measures to combat counterfeits. Along with our coalition partners, we are actively meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee members seeking co-sponsors and urging a committee markup to keep the legislation moving towards passage.


Children’s Online Safety

The Toy Association is monitoring and engaged on the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which is expected to pass the Senate this month; it would impose new obligations on an array of digital platforms, including requiring companies to “exercise reasonable care” to prevent their products from endangering kids. The measure would also require platforms to enable their most protective privacy and safety settings by default and offer parents greater tools to monitor their kids’ activity.


State Environmental Issues

The Toy Association is working in Washington, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, and other states that have active packaging legislation, focusing on industry priorities and ensuring consistency across states. Our staff helps craft legislation and amendments to bills; currently, we are working to amend a bill on battery EPR in Vermont that is expected to be successful. Staff also continues to monitor the highly active rulemaking processes in Maine, Oregon, Colorado, and California as the states implement packaging laws that were passed the last few years.


Our team is in close contact with Circular Action Alliance (CAA), which has been selected by California and Colorado as the single Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to administer the states’ extended producer responsibility (EPR) law and help producers meet their compliance obligations. We joined CAA’s Producer Working Group to ensure that toy industry perspectives are considered and will continue to provide members with up-to-date information and guidance as it becomes available. This will become increasingly important as CAA will likely serve as PRO for additional states.


Though action is not anticipated until later this spring, our staff also continues efforts to update Pennsylvania’s Stuffed Toy Law to allow for the use of recycled materials in toys sold in the state. This is important member-driven legislation The Toy Association introduced, lobbied, and received significant support and traction on, the result of which will affect manufacturing across the U.S. and even internationally.


These are just a few of the issues we are tackling on your behalf. All members of The Toy Association are invited join one of our committees to have say in our advocacy efforts. Please reach out to Ed Desmond, EVP of global government & regulatory affairs, with any questions or to get involved.

toy association toy legislation pfas legislation counterfeiting intellectual propery online safety state environmental

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