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Gov. Gregoire signs legislation improving toy safety

For Immediate Release: April 1, 2008

Action will protect health and safety of children

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed landmark legislation to protect children from unsafe toys. House Bill 2647, the Children’s Safe Products Act, was sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle.

Surrounded by youngsters and other bill supporters, the governor noted that the health of young Washingtonians is one of her top priorities.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our children,” Gregoire said. “The toys and products we give them must meet the highest possible standards of product safety. Parents, doctors, public officials, toy makers and retailers in Washington state all share these goals.”

Gregoire cited federal inaction on product safety as a motivator to improve safety standards in Washington state.

“This should also be a top priority of our federal government — it should set safe standards for children’s products sold across the United States,” the governor said. “However, the toy recalls from last year make it clear: We can’t wait any longer for the federal government to take action. For these reasons, I am pleased to sign legislation that will lead to high standards for toys and other children’s products sold in Washington state. Our children need and deserve nothing less.”

To strengthen the protections for children, minimize bureaucracy and protect good businesses that want to sell good toys, the governor vetoed the narrow sections of the measure on its scope and timing of regulations.

Before the law goes into effect in summer 2009, Gregoire pledged to convene an advisory group composed of children’s advocates, doctors and toxicologists, manufacturers and toy store representatives or owners to guide implementation of the bill in a manner that makes sense for Washington. The group will be charged with helping to develop additional legislation for the governor to pursue during the 2009 legislative session.

To improve upon the bill in the short term, Gregoire requested the drafting of administrative rules to clarify some provisions of the bill. She will ask the advisory group to look at standards for the outer surface and inside of toys, and to consider timelines needed for the industry to implement new standards.

Gregoire expressed her commitment to developing the right scientific standards that protect children without putting good companies out of business and without removing great toys from the shelf.

“While we are increasing protections, we must also avoid eliminating the many interactive and educational toys that have internal electronics. Without modification of this law, those would be taken off the shelf,” she said.

Gregoire also expressed concern with reporting and testing requirements that could make it difficult for small toy makers and independent toy retailers to provide specialty toys in our state, many of which are made to the highest standards of quality and safety.

The governor has instructed the state Department of Ecology to:

  • Prepare expedited rules to clarify that the bill does not apply to internal electronic components that are not accessible to children, such as chip boards and wiring, similar to the internal parts of a television remote control; and

  • Determine how Washington fits with national, international and other state standards so our reporting and testing protocols are tailored to maximize protection to children and allow good businesses to compete.

“We must make sure that parents have confidence that the toys they give their children are doing no harm,” said Gregoire.


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