The Chamber of Commerce has been actively opposing any federal efforts to fund public participation in federal agency proceedings.
But critics of the chamber say the funding actually would go to some of its own members, notably small businessmen.
Two bills, S270 and H.R. 8798, known as the "Public Participation in Federal Agency Proceedings Act of 1977," have been introduced to authorize funding for persons or organizations who can contribute to proceedings and normally would not be able to afford to do so.
Although both are considered "consumer" bills because they would foster consumer involvement in proceedings, they also would fund participation by small businessmen and their won organizations, which also can ill afford to spend money on legal expenses involved in making representations to federal agencies. They are modeled after existing statutes in effect at the Federal Trade Commission.
In recent months, for example, a group of small home insulation installers was given money to be represented at a Federal Trade Commission hearing, and some California undertakers were given money to participate in other FTC hearings.
"Small business interest is definately served" (by the bill), says Lee Richardson, head of the Office of Consumer Affairs at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. "I'm often disappointed that the national chamber doesn't seem to represent small business."
The chamber tells another story about its relationship with Small Business, however. In hearings this liam Eastham called for federal help week, national chamber officer Wilfor the small businessman.
Speaking before the House Small Business Subcommittee, Eastham said that 80 percent of the Chamber of Commerce's members employ fewer than 100 persons, and 25 percent employ fewer than 10.
After months of infighting and bargaining between members, the distilled spirits industry, finally has presented its proposal for changing federal regulation of the liquor industry by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firerams.
An ad hoc committee assembled by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., and representing large and small distillers, wholesalers, retailers and others in the industry has just proposed a position paper.
Among the changes suggested:
Raise the ceiling on promotional gifts allowed from suppliers to retailers from $20 to $75 worth of coasters, mats, clocks, calenders, etc.
Allow special service offerings from producers and wholesalers to retailers such as rotating stock for the retailer, marking prices, assembling and stocking displays, and offering advice on advertising, etc.
Continue to prohibit suppliers from offering money, prizes or other things of value to employes of retailers, but allow some "customary holiday gifts."
Alter present rules forbidding any actions that might result in the exclusion of competitors' products. Revise the rules, which are presently unclear, to say that a competitor's product sales must be reduced by more than 10 percent for the act resulting in that decline to be considered illegal.
Allow distillers to engage in combination packaging, such as offering glassware with a certain liquor buy. Such activities are now "potentially illegal," the statement claims.
Ease present regulations on what it takes to revoke a supplier's permit.
Consumers have a new friend in banking regulation.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the regulatory agency for national banks, has published a consumer complaint pamphlet to be displayed in bank lobbies.
The pamphlet will explain consumers' rights under banking laws, and how to resolve problems.
"Complaints should be viewed as a resource which enables you to identify problem areas that unnecessarily impair valuable customer relationships," said Comptroller John Heimann in an announcement to all banks. "In cases where customers have been unable to resolve their problems within the bank, the OCC is prepared to play an active role to ensure that the rights of the consumers are considered and protected."
The pamphlet covers several areas, including advertising, checking and savings accounts, loan decisions, discrimination, billing procedures and unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
More than $500,000 in unclaimed funds is awaiting creditors of Goldstein, Samuelson Inc., a commodity options broker which was placed in bankruptcy in 193. Checks totalling that sum issued last September were returned to the trustee because of incorrect mailing addresses. Claimants who did not receive that first dividend check on allowed claims should furnish a current mailing address to Goldstein, Samuelson Inc., 6399 Wilshire Blvd,, Suite 320, Los Angeles, Calif. 90048.
A two-day conference on federal product safety laws has been scheduled for Washington on June 5-6. Sponsors are the Federal Bar Association and the Product Safety Letter, a publication.
Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky) and South Carolina U.S. District Judge Robert Chapman, who ruled against the Consumer Product Safety Commission ban on Tris, will be featured speakers, along with several officials of the CPSC.
For information on the conference and associated costs, contact Karen Harrington of the Product Safety Letter, 1080 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045.