Congress Postpones Vote on Bill that Would Reform the Lacey Act

July 31st, 2012 by DWM Magazine

A bill that would reform the Lacey Act was expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives last week but last-minute concerns raised by opponents of the bill prevented the vote from moving forward, according to Ben Gann, director of legislative affairs and grassroots activities for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA). The Lacey Act requires companies involved in importing wood to know the definition of “illegally sourced” as defined by each foreign country.

“This places an extraordinary burden on companies to try to determine if they are in compliance with all laws of every nation in the wood supply chain,” says Gann.

He adds that one of the major challenges with the Lacey Act involves acting with “due care” in importing wood. Although third-party certification has been identified as an appropriate step in the due care process, it alone does not meet the standard for due care under the Lacey Act.

“If enacted, the Relief Act would help door and window manufacturers that import wood by clarifying the concept of due care,” he says.

The Lacey Act is overly broad and the Relief Act is as a way of clarifying the exercise of due care in the acquisition of imported wood, says Gann. Determining a clear standard of due care for importers would allow for prosecution in cases where the Lacey Act was knowingly violated but protect end users who did not knowingly violate the law.

“The setback for the Relief Act is disappointing but WDMA remains committed to finding a solution for manufacturers making it easier for them to comply with the Lacey Act,” he says.

As far as the Relief Act coming up for a vote by the end of the year Gann says that is highly unlikely given the amount of work facing Congress before the end of the year, and that it may come before the House next year.

For more on the Lacey Act look for the WDMA’s column which appears in the July-August issue of DWM magazine.

 

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