Toxic chemical reform bill S.103 crosses the finish line

UPDATE (4/11/2018): Gov. Phil Scott could decide within hours whether to sign or veto new legislation that would protect kids in Vermont from harmful chemicals in children’s products.

The bill (S.103) is on his desk, and industry lobbyists (chemical manufacturers, Associated Industries of Vermont and even some toy makers) are pressing the governor to kill it.

Just this morning, VPIRG joined several colleagues in sending a letter to the governor, urging him to sign S.103.

Check out this letter and additional resources on S.103, as well as our original post on the subject below:

Chemical Working Group Letter to Gov. Phil Scott
VPIRG Press Release
March 29th Letter from Supportive Groups
VPIRG Statement of Support


Original post:

Last week the Vermont Legislature gave final approval to S.103 – a bill that strengthens regulations on toxic chemicals and better protects children in Vermont. VPIRG has worked closely with our allies in the public health, business and environmental communities in supporting S.103 over the past two years. S.103 now heads to Governor Scott’s desk.

Just after the discovery of the toxic chemical PFOA in private drinking water wells in Bennington County and elsewhere around the state in 2016, the Legislature brought together a diverse working group (Act 54) to figure out how to prevent future toxic threats to public health and our environment. This group brought back more than a dozen recommendations to the Legislature at the start of the 2017-1018 legislative session, and several of those ideas are now part of the bill (S.103) now on the governor’s desk. Among other things, S.103 empowers the Commissioner of Health to ban or regulate toxins in children’s toys or other products if they are found to harm kids’ health, as well as will ensure that new drinking water wells are tested for toxic chemicals.

VPIRG has a long history of working to remove toxic chemicals from children’s products, as children are uniquely susceptible to toxic threats. Their growing bodies and developing immune systems are at greater risk of harm. And as children, they tend to put products directly into their mouths in a way that adults do not. This bill removes a lot of the red tape that stands in the way of any immediate action to protect children from chemicals by empowering the Commissioner of Health to take various steps to protect kids if highly credible, scientific data supports such action.

The unfortunate reality is that lobbyists for Associated Industries of Vermont, chemical manufacturers and even toy makers are doing everything they can to kill this bill even now. They tried to gut the bill with an amendment on the floor of the House right before the final vote. We managed to defeat the amendment thanks to some quick action on the part of advocates and key representatives, but it still won the support of 53 members of the House.

So we’re not taking anything for granted with the governor, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the bill or not. We don’t know exactly when the governor will get the bill, but his decision will be made soon, so if you haven’t already done so, please consider using this form to send him a quick message in support of S.103.