Bill 603 is Calif. law despite objections
By Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, 8/20/2001 12:00:00 AM
SACRAMENTO, CA —
The California assembly bill that the Home Fashion Products Association (HFPA), the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) and several independent bedding manufacturers had tried to fight has officially become law.
Governor Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 603 into law on Aug. 10. It authorizes the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BHFTI) to develop regulations concerning the flammability of mattresses and bedding. More specifically, the law states that on or before Jan. 1, 2004, bedding which is found to contribute to mattress fires must be made fire retardant.
"I was motivated to pursue this bill after hearing about the countless children that are killed or injured in mattress fires each year," said California State Assemblyman John Dutra, D - Fremont. "AB 603 will help prevent these senseless tragedies. It is my hope that this bill will pave the way for federal, fire-safe regulations on these products."
Both the HFPA and the ATMI said it was not the purpose of the bill they were fighting but its language, which does not specify what "bedding" means. According to California statute, bedding essentially entails any product that is filled or stuffed and is used for sleeping. However, since no qualification or definition of bedding is made in the bill, then just what AB 603 encompasses remains unclear.
Mattresses and bedding, in order to be deemed fire retardant, must meet a resistance-to-open-flame test based on criteria from the BHFTI or from the American Society for Testing and Materials.
In a memorandum sent to its members, the legal counsel for the ATMI, Meeks & Sheppard, noted that failure to comply with AB 603 "is deemed a crime under the Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation Act."
The memo also noted that the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology were conducting their own tests. If these tests resulted in federal laws or regulations, then AB 603 would be superseded.
"Members should carefully review the impact this legislation may have on their operations," according to the memo.
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