SPRINGFIELD — No, said state Rep. Chapin Rose, you shouldn't need to show your driver's license or sign a form to buy Drano or most other bathroom cleaning products.
There's been some confusion about what is covered by a state law that went into effect Jan. 1, the Mahomet Republican said.
"The way this has been reported is about 90 percent not accurate," said Rose, whose office has received a few calls about the bill (HB 2193) approved last spring. "There are going to be some high-grade, industrial-grade products available at Menards, for example, that are covered, but they're industrial grade. Virtually anything on the Walmart shelf is not going to be covered by this."
Tanya Triche, senior counsel with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said she's taken calls from all over the country about the new law.
"I've been getting calls from retailers and manufacturers in and out of the state," she said.
HB 2193, which passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously, limits who can possess certain caustic or corrosive acids that are regulated by the Federal Caustic Poison Act. Persons who sell or use the substances for commercial purposes are exempt from the restriction on possession.
Also, retailers who sell the products are required to register customers at the time of sale.
But the law doesn't apply to most everyday consumer products, said Triche, only those that contain the words "causes severe burns" on the label.
Some of the confusion about the new law results from the fact that it actually replaces a more onerous Chicago city ordinance, she said.
"The law in Chicago, which ended Jan. 1, 2012, was much broader and more severe," she said. "It, for example, covered automobile batteries, which meant that technically you couldn't buy a car battery in Chicago without signing a registry."
Rose said there is confusion among both retailers and customers.
"There is definitely some confusion among some retailers about this. Some retailers do get into the commercial grades of this, like for plumbing, for example," Rose said. "I think there is some confusion there and people aren't happy.
"But I would compare this to fungicides and weed control chemicals. Anyone can get a bag of 'weed-out' and put it on their lawn. But if you hire someone like Tru-Green, which handles the more serious stuff, then you need someone who knows what they're doing."
Rose said the new law may need to be clarified, perhaps by new legislation or a rule.
"I've had three or four calls about this, but they say that if you get three calls that means there are 300 people who are confused or angry about it," he said. "It's one of these things where you have to clear up the misconception here. I don't think anybody looking at that bill thought you had to show a driver's license to get Drano. That would be silly."
As originally written, the bill was opposed by the retail merchants, Triche said. But after working with the sponsors it was modified during the legislative process and IRMA became "neutral" on the proposal.
Still, it is problematic for many retailers, she said.
"It's certainly not as bad as the Chicago law was, but any time you have to establish and maintain a registry for a product you're selling, that can be a problem, especially for a small business," she said. "It may sound simple to us but it's not simple to a retailer who has thousands of products."