BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 282


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          Date of Hearing:   April 28, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES


                                  Kansen Chu, Chair


          AB 282  
          (Eggman) - As Amended April 22, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Corded window coverings


          SUMMARY:  Prohibits the sale of corded window coverings in  
          California and requires their removal or alteration in licensed  
          community care and child day care facilities serving children  
          under the age of 6.


          Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Defines "accessible cord" as any cord with a length over seven  
            and three-quarter inches, including a cord that can be  
            extended or pulled to exceed that length.


          2)Defines "corded window covering" as a window covering, such as  
            blinds or shades, that has an accessible cord.


          3)Makes it unlawful, as of January 1, 2018, to sell a corded  
            window covering to anyone located in California unless the  
            cord cannot be eliminated, in which case the window covering  
            may be sold if the cord is made inaccessible through the use  
            of a passive guarding device, such as a cord cover.








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          4)Requires, by January 1, 2019, every child day care facility,  
            and every state-licensed or           -certified community  
            care facility, as specified, that serves children under the  
            age of 6 to remove all corded window coverings or to make the  
            accessible cord inaccessible through the use of an effective  
            passive guarding device, such as a cord cover.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Regulates, among other things, the sale of consumer goods  
            within California.  (BPC 18400 et seq.)


          2)Establishes the California Community Care Facilities Act to  
            provide for the licensure and regulation of community care  
            facilities.  (HSC 1500 et seq.)


          3)Defines "community care facility" to mean any facility, place,  
            or building that is maintained and operated to provide  
            nonmedical residential care, day treatment, adult day care, or  
            foster family agency services for children, adults, or  
            children and adults, including, but not limited to,  
            individuals with physical disabilities or mental impairments  
            and abused or neglected children.  Includes within this  
            definition, among a number of other facilities: foster family  
            homes, small family homes, full-service adoption agencies,  
            noncustodial adoption agencies, and transitional shelters.   
            (HSC 1502)


          4)Establishes the California Child Day Care Facilities Act,  
            creating a separate licensing category for child day care  
            centers and family day care homes within the Department of  
            Social Services' (DSS) existing licensing structure.  (HSC  








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            1596.70 et seq.)


          5)Defines "day care center" to include infant centers,  
            preschools, extended day care facilities, and school-age child  
            care centers.  (HSC 1596.76)


          6)Requires community care facilities and child day care  
            facilities operating in California, as specified, to have a  
            valid license.  (HSC 1503.5 and 1596.80)


          7)Requires DSS to conduct unannounced visits of each licensed  
            community care facility, except for foster family homes, and  
            each licensed day care center and requires that no facility or  
            center be visited less frequently than once every five years.   
            Further requires DSS to conduct annual unannounced visits of  
            licensed facilities and centers under specified circumstances,  
            such as when a license is on probation.  Additionally requires  
            annual visits of a random sample of at least 20% of facilities  
            and centers not subject to annual inspections for specified  
            circumstances and states that, should the total citations for  
            this 20% of facilities and centers exceed the previous year's  
            by 10%, the random sample subject to annual inspection shall  
            increase in the next year by 10%.  Because of this trigger,  
            30% of eligible facilities and centers are now randomly  
            sampled each year for inspection.  (HSC 1534 and 1597.09) 



          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:  


          Licensing and oversight of community care facilities and child  
          care centers:  The Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD)  








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          within DSS licenses a variety of facilities, including:  child  
          care centers, family child care homes, adult day care  
          facilities, foster family care homes, other children's  
          residential facilities, and adult and senior residential  
          facilities, including RCFEs.  There are approximately 65,000  
          licensed care facilities in the state, with the capacity to  
          serve 1.3 million Californians. 


          CCLD conducts random inspections of 30% of facilities annually,  
          and each facility must be visited at least once every five  
          years.  Some exceptions triggering more frequent inspections  
          exist, and federal funding requires approximately10% of  
          facilities to be inspected annually.  Approximately 500  
          licensing analysts are employed by CCLD to conduct inspections  
          and complaint investigations.


          Prior to 2004, annual inspections were required for most  
          facilities; the 2003-04 state budget reduced this to once every  
          five years.  The 2014-15 budget included a 10% increase in  
          annual licensing and application fees, and investments in  
          quality enhancement, including increased staff, training, a  
          quality assurance unit, and centralization of application and  
          complaint processes.


          Dangers associated with corded window coverings:  There are a  
          wide range of window covering products, including blinds,  
          shades, curtains and draperies.  Blinds (window coverings  
          typically made up of slats or similar) and shades (generally,  
          containing a continuous roll of material) can both have a cord  
          mechanism used for opening, closing, and otherwise moving them.   
          Curtains and draperies may also have a loop-type cord.


          These cords can present a risk of strangulation for young  
          children, and numerous deaths have been attributed to window  
          covering cords.  According to research conducted by the U.S.  








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          Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff, a minimum of 11  
          fatal strangulations related to window covering cords occurred  
          on average annually among children under the age of 5 between  
          the years 1999 and 2010.  Additionally, CPSC estimated that  
          between 1996 and 2012, 1,590 children across the country  
          received treatment resulting from entanglement with window  
          covering cords.


          To get a better understanding of the problem, CPSC staff  
          conducted a review of available data, gathering a sample  
          representing 285 incidents, 184 of which resulted in death.  Of  
          this sample, CPSC staff was able to review details for 249  
          incidents, determining that the most common types of window  
          coverings involved were:  horizontal blinds (53% of incidents),  
          vertical blinds (17%), and Roman shades (11%).  The most common  
          types of cords involved in these incidents were: pull cords (41%  
          of incidents), continuous loops (28%), and inner cords (19%).   
          While the sample of incidents used in this analysis was not a  
          statistical sample of known probability, these results do point  
          to the association of risk with a variety of window coverings  
          and types of cords. 


          Existing standards for corded window coverings:  In 1996, the  
          American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Window  
          Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) first published a  
          voluntary standard to address the dangers of window covering  
          cords.  This standard has been updated periodically, most  
          recently in 2014.  The 2014 ANSI/WCMA voluntary standard - the  
          ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2014 American National Standard for Safety of  
          Corded Window Covering Products - applies to all corded window  
          covering products and includes definitions, product  
          requirements, labeling and operational tag requirements, and  
          tests and parameters.

          CPSC staff assessed the 2014 ANSI/WCMA voluntary standard and  
          found that, of the incidents they had investigated, 57% were not  
          sufficiently addressed by the standard.  The standard does  








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          address the hazards found in about one-quarter of the incidents,  
          and another 18% of incidents yielded insufficient information to  
          make a determination either way. 

          Proposed rulemaking regarding corded window coverings:  In 2013,  
          the sponsor of this bill, along with a number of other parties,  
          petitioned the CPSC, requesting it to promulgate a mandatory  
          standard containing the same provision found in this bill:   
          forbidding window covering cords, unless they are made  
          inaccessible through a passive guarding device when a feasible  
          cordless alternative does not exist.


          In October of 2014, the CPSC granted this petition to initiate  
          rulemaking regarding window covering safety standards, and began  
          seeking information and public comment.  This comment period has  
          been extended until June 1, 2015.  CPSC will reviews comments  
          upon closure of the comment period and publish a preliminary  
          analysis.  Whether or when CPSC will publish a final rule is as  
          yet undetermined. 


          Critics have pointed to the "decades of back and forth on cord  
          risks" since the CPSC first called window blind cords a  
          "particularly insidious hazard" in 1981.  Additionally, the  
          perceived ineffectiveness of the voluntary standards has drawn  
          attention, including that of the U.S. Government Accountability  
          Office (GAO).  In an October 2014 report on the CPSC, the GAO  
          stated:


            "CPSC does not control the voluntary standards development  
            process, and the laws do not establish a time frame within  
            which standard-development organizations must finalize a  
            voluntary standard.  As a result, the voluntary standards  
            development process can, in some instances, last for prolonged  
            periods of time.  For example, CPSC has worked with the  
            window-covering industry since 1994 to develop voluntary  
            standards to address strangulation hazards stemming from  








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            window blind cords, but conflicting consumer and industry  
            goals have prolonged the process.  The first voluntary  
            standard to address this hazard was developed in 1996 and has  
            been revised at least six times.  However, some consumer  
            groups argue that none of the revisions include designs aimed  
            at eliminating the strangulation risk. Between 2007 and 2011,  
            CPSC negotiated with 38 individual companies to voluntarily  
            recall hazardous window blinds and issued multiple consumer  
            safety alerts about hazards related to window blind cords.   
            Consumer groups have asked standard-setting organizations to  
            consider technologies, such as cordless window coverings, that  
            would eliminate window cord-related hazards.  Some  
            manufacturers have said that while cordless window blinds  
            would eliminate the hazard, a voluntary standard asking  
            manufacturers to produce such window coverings would be too  
            costly for some firms and could create a product that would be  
            unaffordable for some consumers.  In 2011, a coalition of  
            consumer groups [those that in 2013 petitioned CPSC to  
            promulgate a mandatory standard] announced that they had  
            withdrawn from the voluntary standard development process  
            because it lacked transparency, and because resulting  
            revisions to the standard still did not consider existing  
            technologies that could eliminate strangulation hazards from  
            accessible cords."


          Safer cord alternatives:  According to the CPSC's response to  
          the aforementioned 2013 petition requesting a mandatory  
          standard:


            "The market for window coverings includes safer alternatives  
            to products with hazardous cords, such as window covering  
            products designed to function without an operating cord or  
            cordless window coverings, cord shrouds, and cord retractors.   
            These safer alternatives address the hazard created by looping  
            cords by eliminating cords (cordless, crank or wand), by  
            eliminating access to operating cords (shroud), limiting the  
            length of the cord, loop, or bead chain, or restraining the  








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            cord to keep the loop taut.  Cordless window coverings, either  
            manual or motor operating systems, are available for virtually  
            every product.  In general, retail prices for cordless window  
            coverings are higher than retail prices for similar corded  
            products.  Aesthetics, price, technical applicability, and  
            usability all play a role in determining if a safer option is  
            offered with each type of window covering.  Even though  
            limitations exist in the availability of safer options due to  
            large size or weight of a window covering, the majority of the  
            window coverings involved in the incidents that were reported  
            to CPSC could have included a technology to make the product  
            safer, at least from a technical standpoint, if the products  
            were manufactured today."
          


          Need for this bill:  Very disturbing stories can be read in the  
          news depicting parents finding their young children hanging  
          from, or otherwise harmfully entangled in, the cords of window  
          coverings.  The data collected by CPSC staff further show that  
          such stories occur with an unfortunate frequency. 





          This bill seeks to allow California to more immediately address  
          the dangers associated with window covering cords than the  
          federal government has been able to, and does so using  
          provisions very similar to those being requested of CPSC  
          rulemaking by the sponsor and other petitioners.


          According to the author: 













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            "This bill will protect children from the preventable  
            strangulation hazard posed by cords on window coverings.  The  
            federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) identified  
            window coverings as one of the top five hidden home hazards in  
            the country.  Certain window covering cords may present an  
            unreasonable risk of injury, specifically strangulation, to  
            young children.  For almost 20 years, the voluntary standard  
            to mitigate the dangers of accessible operating cords -  
            published by the American National Standards Institute and  
            Window Covering Manufacturers Association - has failed to  
            eliminate or significantly reduce the hazards posed by these  
            products.  According to the CPSC, the current voluntary  
            standard would not have effectively addressed 57% of the  
            window covering cord incidents investigated. 





            Furthermore, for more than a decade, manufacturers have been  
            producing products that eliminate accessible, hazardous cords,  
            as well as designs that render window covering pull cords  
            inaccessible.  Despite their availability, safe window  
            coverings are not widely used by consumers, because they are  
            more expensive than corded window coverings.  Due to the high  
            risk of injury to children, failure of the voluntary standard  
            to address cord hazards, and the availability of products and  
            technology in the marketplace that can reduce the risks caused  
            by corded window coverings, it is necessary to prohibit  
            hazardous accessible operating cords on these products."


          


           SECOND COMMITTEE OF REFERENCE  .  This bill was previously heard  
          in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, on April 21,  
          2015 and was approved on an 11-0 vote.









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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Consumer Federation of America (Sponsor) 


          Consumers Union, Kids in Danger


          Parents for Window Blind Safety


          Consumer Federation of California 


          Consumer Action


          California Public Interest Research Group 


          Independent Safety Consulting


          CALPIRG





          Opposition









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          None on File.





          Analysis Prepared by:Daphne Hunt / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089