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East County News Service

June 5, 2015 (Sacramento)--Assemblyman Brian Jones’ (R-Santee) legislation to conform California law to the federal “Made in America” standard, which is used by every other state in the country, passed the Assembly on May 26th.

Under current California law, it is illegal to sell merchandise that advertises itself as being made or manufactured in the United States if any portion of it is produced outside of the United States.

 “With good reason, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in purchasing local products and those made in the United States, for the simple reason that they associate them with American jobs and superior product quality,” said Assemblyman Jones.  “This legislation will provide an opportunity for California to successfully compete with other states and nations for jobs and investments without removing consumer protections.  I’m pleased that my Assembly colleagues have taken a leadership role by passing this bill.”

Assembly Bill 312 would  require that if a product meets guidelines as established by the Federal Trade Commission, it would meet state requirements for “Made in America” labeling. In their 45 page manual which details how the standard is to be interpreted, the FTC requires “all or virtually all” of a product to be manufactured in the USA of “all or virtually all” domestic components in order to qualify for a Made in the USA label.

“The current California threshold is not only bad for business, but it is bad for the consumer, too,” said Jones.  “Some items aren’t even available in the United States, such as screws and other small, negligible parts.”

A California consumer looking at two virtually identical products, one manufactured 99% in the US and another manufactured 90% outside of the US, would have no way of knowing which product was produced with American labor and quality.

The California Consumer Federation opposes the bill.  In a letter to a key committee chair, Executive Director Richard Holober wrote that the measure would weaken consumer protections. Noting that under the federal standard, New Balance shoes claimed products were “made in America” despite 30% of its components coming from overseas, for example.

He writes,”A 2013 Gallup poll indicated that 60% of Americans are willing toopay more for a “Made in the USA” product.” But he adds, “AB 312 would replace a truth-in-advertising law that protects consumers who care about the origin of the products they buy with a vague standard that invites mislabeling.”

But Tony Maglica, Founder, President and Investor-In-Chief of Mag Instrument, Inc. disagrees. ““If the ‘California Made in USA’ statute ever made sense, it certainly doesn’t today.  Enacted more than 50 years ago, it has never been amended and is now badly out of step with commercial realities,” said Maglica. “In the half-century since that law was passed, the globalization of trade has advanced to the point that almost any product of any complexity has at least some non-US-origin content, even if the product is engineered and assembled in America and has most of its parts made in America by an American workforce.”

 “Allowing the use of the Made in USA label eases a burden for California manufacturers who would otherwise be banned from using the label even when the product meets national standards. This bill makes California manufactured products more marketable because the label carries great value,” said Dorothy Rothrock, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Since his election to the Assembly, the Made in America issue has been one of Assemblyman Jones’ key legislative priorities, believing that current law has cast California in a negative light.   Although previous legislative attempts have secured strong bi-partisan support in the Assembly, the bills have stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AB 312 now moves to the California State Senate.  


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