New law clogs up hardware store shopping lanes in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Cynthia Colletti headed to her local hardware store this week after the handle on her toilet broke.
While shopping at Ace Hardware here, she noticed signs in the plumbing aisle that read “Illinois Caustic/Corrosive Substances Act: Effective January 1st 2012” along with a description of the information customers would have to provide before purchasing caustic materials.
“I just think it’s an overreaction on the part of the Legislature. That if someone wants to make something a weapon, they’ll make it a weapon, and we can’t legislate that out of existence. It’s unfortunate, but people do bad things,” said Colletti, who lives in Springfield.
“… And as a consumer this just makes my life a little more difficult,” she added.
The inconvenience is the byproduct of the law that was written as a crime deterrent.
Anyone buying industrial drain cleaners and other caustic materials must provide photo identification and sign a log, under the law.
The legislation was passed after Drano was used as a weapon in an attack against two Chicago women. The two separate attacks, which occurred more than five years ago, left both women with permanent scars across their faces as well as other bodily disfigurements.
Calls to the Chicago Women’s Foundation and the Battered Women’s Network in Chicago were not returned for their reaction to the consumers and retailers' comments on the implementation of the law.
Former state Rep. Susana Mendoza, D-Chicago, and sponsor of this legislation, explained during a debate in the Legislature this spring how the products placed on this list can burn a hole through the skin and cause permanent disfigurement.
Calls to Mendoza were not returned.
Ace Hardware stores throughout Illinois are determined to make the transition to this law easy for shoppers.
“In our stores, we have these yellow tags up that describe that before you make this purchase starting Jan. 1, in order to purchase a caustic substance, you must provide your ID and other information,” said Shannon Browlee, an Ace Hardware assistant store manager in Springfield.
Another Ace Hardware customer, Gary Satterlee, said he isn’t worried about the convenience factor of this law, rather he said he believes lawmakers should have focused on more pressing issues.
“I wish they would spend their time working on the finances in the state. We have the lowest rate on all the bond issues. We can’t pay our bills. We can’t pay our employees. We are losing people right and left,” said Satterlee, of Springfield.
Despite the negative feedback from consumers, Brownlee said retailers haven’t had any major problems.
“It’s been going pretty good so far. We haven’t had any real arguing or fighting. People are just coming in and understanding the law,” said Brownlee.
Dave Fafolgia, owner of Springfield’s Lakeside True Value, said nearly all of his customers have told him they believe the law isn’t necessary, but they understand and respect the retailer’s position.
“They all get upset. Not upset at the workers, but at the law,” said Fafolgia, whose store is surrounded by older homes with plumbing problems.
Both stores will continue to carry the products affected under this law.
The new law requires those who purchase industrial drain cleaners and other caustic materials to sign a log with their name, address and signature; the date and time of the transaction; and the brand, product name and net weight of each item.
Any retailer in Illinois that sells products listed under the Federal Caustic Poison Act or sells products labeled “causes severe burns” must keep the log and ask for a government issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
Robert Chellios, general manager at an Ace Hardware in Springfield, said the logs won’t be collected regularly, but rather businesses will need to have them readily available at any given time for the state police to inspect.
The state police can issue fines to violators.
The law states retailers would have to pay $150 for the first offense, $500 for the second and up to $1,500 for the third and any additional violation.
The law doesn’t apply to most of the items consumers typically would find at their local grocery store, rather those normally sold at hardware stores. Some items that fall into this category include; The Works Drain Opener, SnoBol Liquid Bowl Cleaner and Drano Crystals. Batteries are exempt from the law.
The law passed both chambers unanimously and was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn into law last August.
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