Henry Juszkiewicz (pronounced JUSS-kuh-witz), CEO of Gibson Guitar, wrote in a recent opinion essay published by The Wall Street Journal that the current version of Lacey Act – a set of laws banning commerce in illegally sourced plants and their products - is an example of overcriminalization and federal overreach. Proponents of the law say it helps fight global illegal logging while protecting U.S. wood products manufacturers from unfair competition abroad.
In the essay, Juszkiewicz said his company was raided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) because it imported unfinished guitar fingerboards from India, presumably violating an Indian law that forbids exporting unfinished products, according to HardwoodFloorsMag.com. In Juszkiewicz’s view, FWS "decided to enforce its own interpretation of Indian law … In effect, the agency is arguing that to be in compliance with the [Indian] law, Gibson must outsource the jobs of finishing craftsmen in Tennessee," he wrote.
Juszkiewicz said his company created 580 jobs in the last two years. He said the FWS raid "is an overreach of government authority and indicative of the kinds of burdens the federal government routinely imposes on growing businesses." He also characterizes the current version of Lacey as a "job killer."
Juszkiewicz publicized H.R. 3210: the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness Act, or RELIEF Act. He said the bill "could reduce the chances of citizens accidentally running afoul of the Lacey law."
In opposition to H.R. 3210 are The Hardwood Federation, a lobbying group of which the NWFA is a part; the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA); The American Forest & Paper Association; and National Hardwood Lumber Association. They believe it would weaken Lacey enforcement, and put the wood product industry's 900,000 jobs at risk.
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