Lobbyists working to derail child-products bill

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A group of toys labeled as dangerous or toxic by the US Public Interest Research Group. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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ALBANY—Intensive lobbying at the Capitol by the chemical industry could derail a bill that would limit chemicals in some children's products.

The Child Safe Products Act has already passed the state Assembly and has a growing coalition of 40 co-sponsors in the Senate.

Yet with time running out on the 2014 legislative session, the bill has not come to the floor for a vote. Multiple sources said that's largely the result of a last-minute push by lobbyists who argue that passage of the legislation could cost the state jobs because it would shut down some manufacturers if their products are banned. Lobbyists have been staking out legislators outside the Senate chamber for the last few days.

One source close to the negotiations said the bill is still “high on the list” of final priorities. It needs 32 votes to pass.

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Senator Phil Boyle, a Long Island Republican, said the bill was necessary because the federal Food and Drug Administration was not moving quickly enough to regulate chemicals that could harm children. That leaves regulation up to the states and New York has a groundswell of support, he said.

“If it's brought to the floor, it will be passed unanimously or almost unanimously,” Boyle said.

But time is running out as the legislative session ends Thursday. Either of the Senate's co-leaders, Republican Dean Skelos or Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeffrey Klein, could bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Both remain noncommittal on whether that will happen.

The bill would require manufacturers to phase out certain chemicals used in children's products, including benzene, lead, mercury, arsenic and molybdenum. Many of the products it would regulate are made in China.

The American Chemistry Council has spent considerable amounts of money to lobby against the Child Safe Products Act, state records show. The group spent at least $160,000 last year to fight a variety of bills, but paid particular attention to the Child Safe Products Act, according to records filed with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.