May 7, 2013
If a barbecue is mostly made here, but its knobs were produced in Mexico, should the grill still carry a “Made in USA” label?
The federal government thinks so. California does not.
Santee Assemblyman Brian Jones, saying the different labeling standards adds to the cost of doing business in California, for the second time is trying to align state law with federal practice.
His measure is on the way to the Assembly floor after clearing its first committee this week.
“The fact that California is the only state in the nation to have such rigid standards is a barrier to business,” Jones, a Republican, said after the vote.
California law is the only state in the nation that requires most of the product to be made “entirely or substantially” in the USA before qualifying for the label. The rest of the states are aligned with a looser federal definition.
Jones said current Federal Trade Commission standards to prevent deception will stay in place.
His bill “will preserve American jobs without taking away the rights of the consumer,” Jones said.
But the Consumer Federation of California opposes the bill, warning of misleading labels and of possible loss of U.S. jobs if more foreign-made parts are used.
The federal law is too lenient and ambiguous while California’s tougher definition protects consumers and prevents manufacturers from using more foreign-made parts to assemble products in the state, critics say.
The labels can be a valuable marketing tool. A Made in USA label can provide an edge as long as the products are competitively priced and of similar quality.
Jones carried similar legislation last year, maneuvering it through the Assembly before it stalled in a Senate committee.
Gov. Jerry Brown has not taken a position on the latest measure, Assembly Bill 890.
© Copyright 2013 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. An MLIM LLC Company. All rights reserved.