September 11, 2008

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

Florida Supreme Court Removes Tax Swap Proposal From Ballot

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a proposed "tax swap" constitutional amendment must be removed from the November ballot because of misleading language. Amendment 5 would have cut the property tax by an average of 25 percent—an estimated $9 billion in 2011—and would have directed the legislature to seek new ways to offset the revenue. The amendment suggested the possibility of raising the sales tax and eliminating existing sales tax exemptions, including advertising.

Polling data indicated that the amendment was far from reaching the 60 percent approval rate it would have needed to pass. AAF Fourth District lobbyist Jack Hebert and the Florida advertising federations played an instrumental role in educating the public and lawmakers as to the potential harmful economic consequences had the amendment been approved.
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CPSC Bill Signed Into Law

On August 31, President Bush signed the Consumer Products Safety Commission Reform Act into law. H.R. 4040 was ultimately approved without the requirement that onerous cautionary statements be included in many advertisements for children's products. The enacted law requires a cautionary statement in advertisements only when the ad provides a direct means to purchase the toy—such as Internet or catalog advertising. The AAF and other industry groups argued that the proposed commercial speech requirements would likely violate the First Amendment guarantees of commercial free speech and that warning language on packaging is appropriate and sufficient.
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Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Deceptive Phone Card Advertising

In a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on deceptive practices surrounding prepaid calling cards, Federal Trade Commission Chairman William Kovacic called on Congress to grant the FTC jurisdiction over common carriers in the prepaid calling arena. Kovacic said that the FTC is best suited to fight deceptive advertising, marketing, billing and collection claims. S. 2998, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would grant the FTC such jurisdiction and require accurate and reasonable disclosure of terms and conditions of prepaid phone cards. The committee heard testimony concerning hidden charges and fees, discrepancies in minutes marketed versus minutes received, alleged deceptive advertising practices and efforts by the FTC to combat consumer abuse surrounding phone card use.
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House Subcommittee Hearing on DTV Transition Near Mexico Border Set

The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet will hold a hearing next week on analog-to-digital television transition and its effects on stations near the U.S.-Mexico border. Last month, the Senate passed a bill (S. 2507) allowing stations within 50 miles of the Mexico border a four-year extension to broadcast in analog. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, introduced the bill, reasoning that many Spanish-speaking populations along both sides of the border rely on broadcast television for access to emergency information.
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