May 16, 2008

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

House Names CPSC Bill Conferees

The House of Representatives has named conferees charged with resolving differences in H.R. 4040 and S. 2663, the Consumer Products Safety Commission Reform Act. Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Joe Barton, R-Texas, Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Cliff Sterns, R-Fla., must reach a compromise with senators over differences in the two bills. The Senate has not yet named its conferees. The Senate version of the bill contains a provision that would require manufacturers, distributors or retailers of children's toys containing small parts to include additional cautionary statements in or immediately adjacent to internet and catalog advertisements. The House version instead calls for a CPSC investigation of the need for additional warning labeling before requiring it. Prior to Senate approval of the bill, the AAF sent letters to senators asking them to adopt language present in the House bill. A copy of the letter is available here.
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Senate Commerce Committee Approves New Tobacco Labeling Restrictions

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has approved a bill that would effectively prohibit cigarette marketing terms such as "ultralight" and "low-tar." S. 2685, introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., would ban the current testing methodology used by the Federal Trade Commission. Currently, "ultralight" cigarettes must contain less than six milligrams of tar and "light" or "low tar" must contain less than 15 milligrams. According to Lautenberg, research indicates that cigarette testing method is flawed, adding "the public demands and deserves truth in labeling." Last year, FTC Chairman William Kovacic told senators that the testing methods were flawed. FTC Associate Director for Advertising Practices Mary Engle said that if the bill is enacted, it is theoretically possible for the commission to develop a different method of testing cigarettes.
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House Judiciary Chairman Introduces Net Neutrality Bill

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., has introduced a bill that would mandate network neutrality under antitrust law. The Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 would prohibit Internet service providers from download and upload speed discrimination of any Internet content, applications or service. Specifically, the bill would amend the Clayton Act, which was originally enacted in 1914 and addresses broad anticompetitive pricing and services discrimination, to include Internet services discrimination. Another network neutrality bill under consideration in the House would instead codify the Federal Communication Commission's nondiscrimination policies and ensure that the FCC had the power to enforce those regulations. The bill (H.R. 5353) was introduced in February by House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass.
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More DTC Hearings Likely, Says Chairman Stupak

At a recent breakfast, Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee indicated he plans to hold additional hearings on direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. The congressman expressed dissatisfaction with the "lack of focus" in the May 8 hearing. In response to a question from AAF's Clark Rector, Chairman Stupak said he wants to hear from broadcasters on the issue and added that committee Republicans would like to invite a representative of the Food and Drug Administration to testify.
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Connecticut Legislature Adjourns Without Considering Online Advertising Bill

The Connecticut legislature has adjourned sine die for the year without consideration of an online advertising bill that would have increased behavioral marketing regulation. House bill 5765 would have required third-party network advertisers to inform users of a Web site of its data collection and use practices. The AAF opposed the bill, because absent any demonstrable consumer harm or concern with Internet advertising, additional government regulation is unnecessary. A similar bill is still under consideration in New York; however, no new action has been made. Any action should be at the federal level to avoid a patchwork of inconsistent state legislation.
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