Two bills take aim at ‘lead ban’ prohibiting sales of youth-sized motorcycles and ATVs

by Jeff on March 31, 2009


A video promoted by the motorcycle and ATV industry.

The latest hope to end the “lead ban” on motorcycles and ATVs marketed for kids age 6-12 has come in the form of proposed legislation.
Senate bill S. 608 and House bill H.R. 1587, were introduced last month with intentions to overturn the effective ban that resulted from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008.
The ban has proven enormously unpopular because it essentially shut down an entire industry sector of off-highway kids’ motorcycles and ATVs on Feb. 10, 2009.
The CPSIA has been described as “poorly crafted,” having further “unintended consequences” of potentially motivating parents to put their kids on larger, more powerful machines which in turn could prove more hazardous than any purported lead contamination.
And as seen by the video above, industry representatives are condemning the ban for having put a major – and potentially permanent – stranglehold on kids’ powersports racing.
The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), along with the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), have announced their support for two new bills.
These groups, along with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), and others also sponsored the writing of over 100,000 letters from those objecting to the ban.
Although Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) representatives said the commission must forbid the sale of products containing more than 600 parts per million of lead, the MIC continues to contend that CPSC has the power to grant exclusions for youth sized powersports machines.
Aside from a few challenges to the law, such as a well-publicized defiance by California powersports dealer and off road racing legend, Malcolm Smith – who sold some contraband machines in March – the industry is otherwise waiting to see whether CPSC will grant its petitions for exclusions.
To date, however, industry representatives allege CPSC has chosen a narrow reading of the law, and despite toxicological evidence submitted by the MIC attempting to prove targeted products harmless, they say the CPSC appears poised to deny its petitions.
Because of this lack of confidence in the CPSC, the MIC and others have intensified efforts to get Congressional support for a solution, such as is as offered by the newly proposed bills.
Introduced on March 17 by Montana democratic U.S. Sen. John Tester, S. 608 seeks to amend the CPSIA to exclude secondary sales, repair services and certain vehicles – including youth ATVs and motorcycles – from the ban on lead in children’s products, and for other purposes.
The House bill, H.R. 1587, was introduced on March 18 by U.S. Reps. Rehberg, R-Mont, Burgess, R-Texas, Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Simpson, R-Idaho. It likewise is aimed at amending lead-prohibiting aspects of CPSIA, and would allow exemption for certain off-highway vehicles and for other purposes.
The MIC’s representatives have said it will continue to work with the bills’ sponsors to fine tune the attempts at needed relief to the powersports industry.
As currently drafted, S. 608, for example, would stop the ban on vehicles intended for children ages 7-12. Both MIC and SVIA advocate for the exemption of vehicles intended for children ages 6-12 to ensure all current models will again be available, since many have been designed for ages 6 and up.
“It’s time to start letting kids ride safely again on vehicles designed for their use, and finally put an end to this untimely economic debacle,” said Paul Vitrano, General Counsel, Motorcycle Industry Council and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America. “We’re very pleased to see that congressional action is being taken to end the ban, and we’re working with the bill sponsors to ensure these bills would provide immediate and critical relief to the powersports industry.”
The MIC has asked its members, dealers, and enthusiasts to act now and show their support for S. 608 and H.R. 1587 by contacting their members of Congress and appropriate committee members via www.StopTheBanNow.com.
The special site, hosted by the MIC’s Web site, offers statements, press releases, video testimonials, news articles, and additional information.

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