Ridiculous standards imposed by state courts could make most “Made in the USA” labels illegal in California. To make matters worse, the state legislature has refused to change laws to allow the labels.
Under the current standards, a product can only be labeled “Made in the USA” in the Golden State if all the components in it were made in the United States. A computer assembled in California that contains one chip or screw made in China would not be considered “Made in the USA” under these ludicrous standards.
Courts Ban “Made in the USA” in the Name of Truth in Advertising
The standard was set by a court case called Kwikset Corp. v. Superior Court, or Kwikset v. Benson. In that case, somebody named Benson sued the lock manufacturer Kwikset because one of its locks contained screws made in Mexico. A trial court ruled that Kwikset’s “Made in the USA” labels were false advertising under a state law called Proposition 64 because its locks contained some screws made in Mexico.
This poses an impossible standard that many manufacturers will not be able to meet. What happens in a case where the components the manufacturer needs are not made in the USA? Even products that have 95% or 99% American components are not considered American made under such a standard.
It could make “Made in the USA” a thing of the past when considering that California is America’s most populous state and the largest market for a variety of products. Many companies will have to scrap “Made in the USA” labeling because they cannot afford to make separate labels for California and the rest of the country.
Legislature Refuses to Overturn Stupid Decision
To make matters worse, three Democratic members of the California State Senate effectively blocked legislation that would have put an end to this nonsense last year.
Republican State Assemblyman Brian Jones introduced a piece of legislation called Assembly Bill (AB) 890, which would have set a reasonable standard for products labeled “Made in the USA.” Jones’ standard is 90% American-made components. AB 890 passed the Assembly, or lower house of the California state legislature with strong bipartisan support. Since Democrats are the majority party in California, it’s safe to assume most Democrats voted for it.
Yet the bill was tabled by the judiciary committee of the State Senate and allowed to die. The Committee’s Chair, Senator Noreen Evans, a Democrat, actually criticized Jones for introducing the legislation. It isn’t clear why she did this, but Jones stated that he thinks it was done solely because the legislation was introduced by a Republcian.
Jones has promised to reintroduce AB 890 next year. He believes the ridiculous standards imposed by the courts make it harder for manufacturers to create jobs. Jones has also stated he’ll keep reintroducing the legislation until it passes.