Gov. Schwarzenegger Vetos Fur Label Law

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sacramento, CA–Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill this week that would have required apparel and accessories manufacturers to disclose on labels whether any animal product was used even as a trim.

Schwarzenegger’s veto—one of 37 he rejected this week—was due to his concern that the law would increase costs to manufacturers and retailers. He also said a $500 fine for first violation and up to $1,000 penalty for repeat offenses was excessive.

HSUS Found Dog Fur Used as Trim

The bill, which was similar to other laws adopted in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, would have required manufacturers to disclose on labels the origin and whether any animal product—including dog fur—was used in any clothing or accessories (except handbags).  Backers of AB1656, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said many consumers mistakenly assume they are buying faux fur when really might be made from animal skins because federal law only requires manufacturers to list materials valued at more than $150 on apparel and accessories labels.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma of San Francisco, who proposed the bill which had bipartisan support, said she was disappointed by the governor’s decision, noting that she worked with the California Retailers Association to assuage their concerns.  Ma argued costs to manufacturers would have been minimal and  disclosure is particularly important for people with allergies or moral objections to wearing animal products.

“Californians need to know if they are buying raccoon dog or a polyester blend,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a mystery.”

“Right now, there are jackets for sale in California stores that say nothing on the label about the raccoon dog fur trimming the hood,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director at HSUS.

According to the HSUS, unlabelled animal fur apparel was found in the San Francisco area in January this year on products including Coach brand boots at Macy’s, a dyed pink jacket by Bryan Bradley at Loehmann’s, and Baby Phat, Rocawear and Utex brand jackets at Burlington Coat Factory.

Federal Fur Label Law Pending in U.S. Senate

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the The Truth in Fur Labeling Act which aims close a loophole that excludes garments and accessories with fur valued at $150 or less. A HSUS spokesman said today that the bill is “hotlined” to the U.S. Senate, meaning is could pass in the next two weeks “without objection” and be sent to President Obama for signature.

Under  current federal law, an estimated 13% of fur garments sold in the country do not require labeling because the value of the fur is $150 or less, even if the fur is dyed pink or blue to look synthetic. The Fur Products Labeling Act, passed by Congress in 1951, already requires seven out of every eight fur garments to be labeled with the species of animal and country of origin.  The HSUS argues that the remaining fur-trimmed garments should be required to meet the same standard.

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