Legislative Update: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

The HSMG has been actively involved in advocacy for the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry for the past several years.  We have made tremendous progress during the past year in introducing and familiarizing our industry to Capital Hill with the assistance of our DC advocates Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo. HSMG  leaders have met with Members of Congress to educate them on our industry’s businesses as well as the diverse products they produce.  Most encouraging is Congress listened and took our concerns to heart.

When the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 was introduced last year, the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry was unknown in Washington, DC.  Many provisions in the 2010 bill would have negatively impacted thousands of small businesses throughout the United States.  Through our meetings with the staff of the bill sponsors, Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Edward Markey and Tammy Baldwin, we learned that the legislation was not aimed at the handcrafted soap industry.

Now, a year later, we have attended several meetings with the sponsors of the bill and many other Members of Congress.  They have listened to and heard our concerns.  There have been many positive changes, and we are very encouraged that we have such an open line of communication to see our way forward.

On June 24, 2011, a new bill, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (HR 2359), was introduced. After a detailed review of the new legislation, we  held another meeting with the bill sponsors to get clarification on some areas of concern with HR 2359 . At that meeting, held July 13th, the staff was very gracious and willing to answer our questions and, more importantly, to help us understand their intention in drafting the legislation.  We were very  encouraged to find out that many of the worries that we had were due to misinterpreting the language in the bill or not understanding the intent behind certain portions.

Based on the information provided to us and our current understanding of the bill, we support the intent of The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

During the week of July 24th, we will be placing a detailed summary of the bill on our website which will include the clarifications on issues of concern we have received from the sponsors. Until then, should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

This is far from over; the legislative process is long and includes committee hearings, amendments, mark-ups  and hearings all before the bill moves to the House floor for any vote.  The HSMG is very confident that with the relationships we have forged and with the guidance and advice of our legislative advocates, we are well positioned to have our voice heard throughout the process.  It is very important to stay involved, stay informed and above all, stay calm.  We have a seat at the table and we will continue our dialogue with the bill sponsors, committee members and others as the legislation moves forward.

Leigh O’Donnell

HSMG President

HSMG Advocacy Position Statement

The HSMG has issued the following Advocacy Position Statement, approved by the Board of Directors on July 14, 2011.

The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild (HSMG) is a non-profit trade association for soapmakers, small businesses hand making soaps and the handmade soap making industry as a whole. Depending on the formulation and/or claims, handmade soaps can be regulated by the FDA or CPSC.  The following principles outline the HSMG policy positions:
  1. Supports small businesses manufacturing safe soap and safe cosmetics.
  2. Supports current cosmetic regulations for the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act as a means of providing consumers with safe cosmetics.
  3. Supports the current soap exemption as defined in the current cosmetic regulations for the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
  4. Supports all manufacturers having affordable and sufficient product & liability insurance.
  5. Supports small business manufacturers having access to up to date information and education.
  6. Supports positive advocacy strategies and communication as a means to affect change.
  7. Opposes new regulations which would be overly burdensome or costly to small business while not significantly increasing consumer safety.