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Aug 102010
 

We_the_People Sometimes you might feel put off, or even insecure, to speak up when you think something isn’t quite right and should be changed.  There are those who insist in a “representative” democracy that you should simply vote for your representatives in Congress and your state legislature and leave it to them to make the right decisions.  It is easy to think that you are just one person, one small voice and you can’t possibly make a difference.  Plus, just who has the time to get involved these days?  Who can compete with all those corporate lobbyists who have such great access and influence when it comes to lawmaking?  What about those powerful NGO’s and well-funded Interest Groups?  Sometimes, even advocating for a stop sign in your neighborhood can bring stressful opposition from your neighbors.  And, trying to agree with one another can certainly be difficult.  Avoidance  might often seem the better choice.

I hope you don’t think so.

Let’s first define the difference between advocacy and lobbying as often they are confused. Advocacy is the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause or policy.  Lobbying activities are aimed at influencing members of a legislative body on legislation.

Recently, an unprecedented landmark Supreme Court decision, called “Citizens United”,  unleashed unlimited corporate money that can now be donated to political campaigns.  This means that good ideas that come from the people, from the grass roots, can be challenged even more greatly than they already are by the guys with the big bucks.  Constitutional scholars and policy wonks will be discussing this decision for decades.  And, there is already an effort brewing in Congress to pass laws that will rescind this imbalance of power in our democracy, which could potentially destroy it.

Capitol_Poppies This SCOTUS decision is perhaps the most important reason to get involved with issues that will affect you and your business colleagues, and hopefully it is a wake up call.   It is my opinion that getting involved is not only a right, but a responsibility. If we believe in the value of our democracy, it is up to us to participate vigorously to insure it exists for our children and grandchildren. Here are a few “pep talks” that will hopefully stir you off the sideline.

1.  One person can make a difference.  Asking an elected official for support can produce results that serve the public and bring awareness of the issues like those of small business who are trying hard to manage their business using small business software to more people.  A single advocate – a respected individual in the community – has been able to bring together like-minded people to convince a key member of Congress to change or eliminate language in a bill if he/she is convinced of the adverse consequences.

2.  Advocacy is essential to our democratic form of government.  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to petition the government – the simple act of informing our policy makers about important public issues.  Without advocacy, our issues simply will not be considered.

3.  Lobbying is easy.  There is nothing mysterious about lobbying.  At its heart, lobbying is the simple act of telling a story and being persuasive.  An advocate can make an important difference in a legislator’s position on an issue or pending bill by explaining through personal experience the importance of your cause to the affected community.

4.  Policy makers need your expertise.  Legislators depend on solid information to help make their decisions, and they want to hear from the people they represent.  Becoming a reliable source of information for your legislators will carry weight in their decision-making, especially if you, the advocate, are the expert on the issue.

Those of us who are Indie Beauty Network members are fortunate to have Donna Maria Coles Johnson at the forefront of issues facing small personal care products businesses.  She is drawing terrific leadership from within her membership and organizing a cohesive message for greater impact.  Currently, we are working to oppose H.R. 5786 Safe Cosmetics Act 2010, which, we believe, will have grave consequences for not only personal care products manufacturers, but others who use manufacturing ingredients such as essential oils in an alternative practice.  You can read the petition statement and sign the Oppose The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 petition.

Thanks for listening.

Marcia

 Posted by at 2:57 pm
Aug 092010
 

Samara Botane Products You may think if you are a natural perfumer,  aromatherapist, massage therapist, or other alternative practitioner using essential oils or other raw botanical extracts or materials in your practice, craft or art,  that this bill will not directly affect you. At least you don’t think so.  However, you could be dead wrong.  If you are not a licensed doctor (M.D. or D.O. have the broadest authority) who can legally write a prescription, then you may be at risk under H.R. 5786 if you make essential oil blends or synergies for your clients or natural perfumes sold to clients (the general public). Thus far, essential oils have not been legally designated as either prescription or over-the-counter drugs.  The definition most used is, “A volatile oil, usually having the characteristic odor or flavor of the plant from which it is obtained, used to make perfumes and flavorings.”  In other words, they are manufacturing ingredients.

In H.R. 5786 (subchapter B), the definition of ‘ingredient’ reads:

“The term ‘ingredient’ means a chemical in a cosmetic, including – –
(A)  chemicals that provide a technical or functional effect;
(B)  chemicals that have no technical or functional effect in the cosmetic but are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetic;
(C)  processing aids that are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetics;
(D)  substances that are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during processing for their technical or functional effect;
(E)  contaminants present at levels above technically feasible detection limits;
(F)  contaminants that may leach from container materials or form via reactions over the shelf life of a cosmetic and that may be present at levels above technically feasible detection limits;
(G)  the components of a fragrance, flavor, or preservative declared individually by their appropriate label names; and
(H)  any individual components of a botanical, petroleum-derived, animal-derived, or other ingredient that the Secretary determines to be considered an ingredient. 

It is probably worth your while to ponder these definitions and take in their full impact.

Here in Washington state, the definition of ‘manufacturing’ in the state revenue code (RCW) reads:

"Manufacturer" means every person who, either directly or by contracting with others for the necessary labor or mechanical services, manufactures for sale or for commercial or industrial use from his or her own materials or ingredients any articles, substances or commodities.” (RCW 82.04.110)

"To manufacture" embraces all activities of a commercial or industrial nature where labor or skill is applied, by hand or machinery, to materials so that as a result thereof a new, different or useful substance or article of tangible personal property is produced for sale or commercial or industrial use . . . “

As you can see, this definition applies to the individual ‘person’, whether they are registered or incorporated as a business or not.  We can find similar manufacturing legislation in every state of the Union.  There is no exemption for individual practitioners, as many would define themselves.

I urge all my customers and clients, whether large corporations, small businesses or individuals to become more aware of the growing legislative efforts across the world that may affect the use of essential oils.  Please join the other 3,593 (and growing) signers in the advocacy efforts to oppose H.R. 5786 and make a point to stay abreast similar legislative issues.  

Thanks for listening,

Marcia

 Posted by at 7:50 pm