Governor Brown signed into law new legislation (SB 646-Pauley) that ends what has been described as a dual track system for enforcing California’s Lead Containing Jewelry Law (Health and Safety Codes Section 25214.1-25214.4.2). The law, which regulates the levels of lead in jewelry, also contained an exemption for retailers that had joined a settlement in the form of a consent judgment with the California Attorney General’s office. That consent judgment limited the settling defendants’ penalties for ongoing or future violations. Other companies that had not entered into the settlement were subject to regular penalties that can be as high as $2,500.00 per violation per day. The new law removes the exemption for companies that had previously settled and subjects them to the same level of penalties as if they had not entered into the consent judgment. Not surprisingly, some of the settling defendants that no longer have the exemption that they bargained for in the consent judgment do not believe that this is a fair result. When SB 646 takes effect on January 1, 2012, California Department of Toxic Substances Control will have the sole authority to enforce the state’s regulations concerning lead in jewelry and impose fines on violators. California’s law restricting cadmium in children’s jewelry (to 300 parts per million) also takes effect on January 1, 2012.
For additional information regarding SB 646 contact Melissa A. Jones or Lee N. Smith