|Maryland Eyeing Consumer Protection Bills|
March 13, 2012
While higher profile legislative issues have taken the limelight in the press, the Maryland Assembly is considering several bills that positively impacts consumers. Del. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery) is leading an effort to require labels on tires clearly indicating the month and year of their manufacture. In an interview with the Washington Post, Del. Kramer said "The tire manufacturers in the industry have done their best for years to keep under wraps the fact that tires - whether they have ever been put on a car or not - begin to deteriorate from the moment the manufacturing process is completed".
In another bill, which has already passed both chambers of the General Assembly, gives shoppers more information about the integrity of honey. Maryland beekeepers, say pure honey has difficulty competing with low-cost, adulterated honey, pushed for the legislation establishing a "standard of identity" for honey. The bill allows beekeepers or honey packers to bring suit against companies who add cheap additives, such as high-fructose corn syrup, without clearly labeling the extra ingredients on the front of the jar.
Also pending is a proposal to keep people under 18 from using tanning beds that emit cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. As it stands, minors can use such devices with parental permission. Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery), the bill’s lead sponsor in the House, told the Post: "Because this is a carcinogen, we want to treat it the same way we treat alcohol and cigarettes, which are banned for minors".
Del. James W. Hubbard (D-Prince George's), is sponsoring a bill that would ban the sale of child-care products that contain a chemical flame-retardant widely used in car seats and high chairs. The chemical, tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate or TCEP, has been shown to cause cancer in rodents. "I'm not going to wait for the federal government to do something while my constituents are the ones who are becoming sick," Hubbard said to the Post.
Hubbard, a standard-bearer for toxic substances legislation in Maryland, has also introduced a bill that would make Maryland the second state, after California, to ban restaurants from serving foods with artificial trans fat, which is associated with coronary heart disease and strokes. Hubbard is also a co-sponsor of a bill that could lead to special safety warnings for amusement park visitors who have recently suffered a concussion. The bill has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.
Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore) is the lead sponsor of a bill that addresses rent-to-own stores such as Rent-a-Center. "Rent-to-own stores sometimes use deceptive advertising and confusing contracts to conceal the long-term costs of leases," Washington said. Noting that the industry is under-regulated, Del. Washington's bill would cap a contract's total cost, force stores to disclose the cost of a similar item at a traditional retail store and require contracts to be written in "plain English," among other protections.
Another bill being considered would allow a parent to place a security freeze on a child's credit, a measure meant to prevent identity theft. The bill passed the Senate on March 8, 2012 and awaits action in the House.
Finally, a bill that appears on the verge of passage in the Senate after passing the House last month, would require pet store owners to post information about a dog's breeder on its cage. In some cases, sellers would also have to reimburse health expenses for dogs that become ill after purchase.