State, Federal, and Business Protection Advocacy: Not Everything is About China
Toy Association President & CEO Steve Pasierb discusses a number of ongoing Association advocacy efforts that tackle homegrown challenges, including intellectual property protection, marketing to children, data privacy, and chemical safety.
March 12, 2019 | The drumbeat of advocacy on behalf of our members is unceasing. With a wildly successful Toy Fair New York now in the books, I was once again struck by the conversations I had with members over those four days about the hurdles we collectively face. From hot issues addressed during the External Affairs Strategy Meeting on Monday afternoon, to the exhaustive agenda of Toy Fair’s annual Safety and Regulatory Seminar, to a range of topics addressed during other Toy Fair gatherings, we’re truly living in interesting times. While the Association’s work on China tariffs rightfully gets the headlines these days, a panoply of local, state, and federal issues combined with ongoing threats of retail bankruptcies, and issues surrounding intellectual property protection, marketing to children, data privacy, chemical safety, and more, all pile into a mountain of homegrown challenges that keep our rapt attention.
Since January, our External Affairs team has been managing 130 pieces of new or re-introduced state legislation in 25 U.S. jurisdictions (AR, CA, CT, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MO, MS, NC, ND, NH, NY, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, and WA) on a range of topics, including BPA, chemical regulation, drones, e-waste, extended producer responsibility/product stewardship, flame retardants, internet tax, lead/heavy metals/mercury/cadmium, packaging, phthalates, privacy, right to repair, toy guns, and toy safety. Key states, including California, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington, have demanded exceptional levels of resources and time over the past few years both from the Association and our members, who generously volunteer on key committees.
Federal work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among several others, along with a range of Congressional offices and committees, is ongoing. A new issue on the federal list is a bipartisan effort to update children’s online privacy legislation: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) are preparing draft legislation to address children’s online privacy in the wake of issues on Facebook and other sites. Senator Hawley has been outspoken about finding a legislative solution “to rein in big tech and protect kids’ personal data online.” While our companies are not big tech, marketing to children is a prime area where there will be new legislation and regulations proposed that will impact the toy community.
Meanwhile, the Credit Committee meeting at Toy Fair exemplified risk and concern that remains across the retail sector. A deep dive into deconstructing the Toys“R”Us bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation pointed to newfound risk and a lack of member confidence in Debtor in Possession Financing that may be employed in future bankruptcies. Committee discussions on retailers large and small, and ongoing uncertainty with Sears/Kmart, Shopko, and several others, means the work to monitor and help members manage these disruptions is certain to continue. The 2019 Annual Business Conference, to be held in Minneapolis this June, has an agenda heavily influenced by these issues that could detract from, or could benefit, the future health of toy companies.
Legislative, regulatory, and business sustainability issues we manage impact all 1,115 members of The Toy Association in varying ways and in different degrees but protecting your companies and the business of toys – whether made in Michigan or Mississippi or imported from China or Vietnam – is a vital function of The Toy Association and a key reason we exist. Our international work, which I haven’t touched upon in this letter, helps American companies level the playing field or open new markets for their products around the world.
The challenges today come not only from Washington, DC but also from towns, cities, counties, and states across our nation and nations around the world. If you or a member of your team would like to join one of our External Affairs committees – be it Federal, State, Marketing to Children, Intellectual Property, Environmental, etc. – or you would like to learn more about this and the other work of The Toy Association on your behalf, please reach out to me at email@example.com or to Ed Desmond, executive vice president of external affairs, and we will set up a call.
Here’s to success and prosperity for you and your people as we journey through 2019 together.
All good wishes,
President & CEO
Follow me on Twitter @StevePasierb