October 12, 2007

Jeff Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Coordinator – Government Affairs

Michigan Senator Introduces Bill to Repeal Services Tax

Michigan State Senator Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River Township, introduced a bill that would repeal the recently enacted sales tax on services in the state before it takes effect on December 1. While the tax does not specifically apply to advertising, related services such as consulting fees and desktop publishing fall under the tax guidelines. Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, signed the tax measure as part of a continuing resolution that prevented a partial government shutdown. Brown said he will work with a coalition of businesses groups opposed to the tax to push for repeal. Senate Bill 624 was referred to the Michigan Senate Finance Committee.
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AAF Submits Election Advertising Comments to FEC

Responding to a Federal Election Commission request for comments on election advertising rule changes, the American Advertising Federation, AAAA and ANA urged the agency to implement a recent Supreme Court decision in a manner that protects the First Amendment. The letter argues that regulations should clearly distinguish between ads that are a "direct appeal to vote for or against a candidate" and commercial ads entitled to Constitutional protection, including public service announcements, advertising for books, movies and tourism or other ads unrelated to an election. There is concern that an advertisement using a name or issue similar to one in any upcoming election might be grounds for prosecution unless a distinction in the law is clearly made. Because of the nuances in deciding whether an ad is commercial speech or not, the AAF is encouraged by Chief Justice John Roberts' comments in the original court ruling, which said, "where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor." A copy of the full letter is available here.
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ConAgra Foods Joins Children's Advertising Initiative

ConAgra Foods has joined the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, agreeing to limit children's marketing to foods that meet nutritional standards. The company joins Burger King; Cadbury Adams USA LLC; Campbell Soup Company; the Coca-Cola Company; General Mills, Inc.; the Hershey Company; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods Inc.; Mars, Inc.; McDonald's USA, LLC; PepsiCo, Inc.; and Unilever United States in the initiative. Even prior to the addition of ConAgra and Burger King, the companies involved in the imitative accounted for roughly two-thirds of televised food and beverage advertising expenditures in 2004. House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., praised ConAgra for its voluntary commitment. The company indicated it will release full details of its advertising plan in January 2008.
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