California has long been a trendsetter in laws pertaining to protecting safety and privacy. More often than not, regulations passed in California inspire other states and make their way to the desks of federal legislators in Washington, D.C. thereby “shaping the national agenda.”
Although some stringent compliance programs come with a cost for businesses, concerns over people’s health and their right to make informed purchases – coupled with rising public awareness about harmful elements in our daily life – are reason enough to start a debate in states’ legislative arenas.
That seems to be the case with California Prop 65, which has been partially cloned in the state of Washington and has been high on Gov. Cuomo’s agenda in New York.
Will There Be a New York Prop 65?
In January 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a proposal to the Executive Budget requiring certain products sold in the state to be labeled as containing harmful chemicals. The proposal extends the New York State Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program bannered by the Department of Environmental Conservation, by which manufacturers were required to disclose the contents of the products as well as demonstrate their research efforts regarding the effects of such contents on health and the environment.
Per the newly proposed New York State Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, the DEC would establish warning label requirements on products deemed potentially dangerous, in particular for children with asthma, pregnant women or people with a history of or undergoing cancer treatment.
The DEC would also be mandated to:
- Determine feasibility of on-package labeling
- Develop a list of substances that will require warnings
- List the consumer products that require such warnings.
Due to pressure from lobbies that considered the proposal “dangerously vague and ultimately unworkable,” the proposal was removed from the budget talks, pending more details and a better-defined framework.
Then, in August 2019, the New York Supreme Court declared the original New York State Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program null and void, stating it:
“constituted a regulation and that it had not been promulgated in accordance with the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA).”
So far, it seems, nothing is set in stone. However, such regulations meet a lot of support from consumer groups.
California Prop 65 vs New York State Cleaning Product Right to Know Act
At first glance, both California Prop 65 and the Governor’s proposal share a lot in terms of reach and scope.
List of Chemicals That Trigger Labeling Requirements
So far, the California database – created and updated by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) – contains around 950 chemicals. New York’s list would contain over 1,000.
Warnings to Be Displayed on the Product and Online
Manufacturers/distributors selling in the state have to clearly label the product and maintain an online disclosure repository for all products falling under the scope of the regulation.
Product Range and Enforcement
Where the two mostly differ concerns product range and enforcement. The state of New York Cleaning Product Right to Know Act could affect all cleaning products and include personal care products.
Enforcement of the regulation would not be entrusted to the Attorney General, but to the regulatory agency. This means that, unlike California, there would be no “bounty hunter” business opportunities, allowing businesses to spend less on attorney fees and litigation expenses and more on – say – product alternatives or greener sourcing efforts.
What Should Businesses Do Now?
Seeing New York’s version of Prop 65 on the legislative agenda, or any other state for that matter, is only a question of time. The states’ efforts and initiatives toward more transparency and more sustainable business practices are set to pick up speed over the next few years. Rather than wait for the axe to fall (in the form of compliance programs), organizations can take proactive steps to gain a significant competitive edge and waste fewer resources when deadlines finally loom.
If you are affected by California Prop 65, you already have deployed a compliance system. Chances are you are not strictly doing business in the Golden State. So, any new regulation proposal making it past committees is not only relevant to you, but a great opportunity to be proactive.
Source Intelligence is always ahead of the game. Our Prop 65 solution is so robust and comprehensive that it will easily be outfitted to match New York’s next Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, or any other state.
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