Focus is Simple: Reform the CPSC For the Sake of Our Children (Sen. Amy Klobuchar)

In 2007, nearly 29 million toys and pieces of children’s jewelry were recalled because they were found to be dangerous – and in some cases, deadly – for children.

It is clear that the current system to ensure the safety of consumer products is broken. It needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now. We need clear standards with enforceable penalties.

As a mom and as a former prosecutor, and now as a U.S. Senator, I find it totally unacceptable that toxic toys are on our shores and in our stores. As my 12-year-old daughter said when her favorite Barbies were recalled, "Mom, this is getting serious."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a shadow of its former self. Even though the number of imports has tripled in recent years, the number of commission staff and inspectors has fallen by more than half, from a high of 978 in 1980 to just over 400 today. This past year, the commission had only one toy inspector, and he just retired.

The Senate has produced important legislation that would more than double the commission’s budget by the year 2015. H.R. 2663 would put 50 more staff at United States ports of entry in the next two years to inspect toys and products coming into the country.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I have authored three provisions that are part of this legislation to give the commission and parents the tools they need to protect our children. First, the bill would set a mandatory standard for lead in toys, effectively banning lead in toys. Amazingly, there is no mandatory federal lead standard today. Second, the bill would require that toys and their packaging be stamped with batch numbers so that parents know when a toy is dangerous and has been recalled. Third, the bill would ban the sale of toys that have been recalled.

To me, the focus is simple. We need to get toxic toys out of our children's hands. Not just voluntarily, not just as a guideline, but with the force of law.