March 8, 2013
Obama Names Ramirez Chairwoman of Federal Trade Commission
The Obama Administration has announced that FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez is the new Chairwoman of the agency. Ramirez is seen as an expert in litigation and antitrust matters. In private practice she worked with clients such as Mattel, Walt Disney and Northrop Grumman. Because Ramirez has been a sitting Commissioner since 2010, no Senate confirmation is necessary. The departure of previous Chairman Jon Leibowitz leaves an opening for a third Democratic commission member. That selection will require the Senate’s approval.
Chairwoman Ramirez will speak at AAF’s Advocacy and Action: Advertising Day on the Hillon April 17.
Minnesota Governor Removes Ad Tax
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) told a local audience that he would remove the business-to-business sales taxes – including the tax on advertising – in his revised budget to be released next week. AAF’s Minnesota ad clubs were very active in opposing the tax and participating in the Minnesota Communications Industry Coalition. Ad club members showed up to testify against the tax at a February 27 legislative hearing. So many citizens showed up to protest the Governor’s plan that the hearing was adjourned before all had the opportunity to testify. AAF and the local industry will keep a close eye on the budget process to make sure there is no revival of the ad tax.
Ohio and Louisiana Governors Consider Taxing Advertising
Governors in two other states are still considering taxes on advertising as a part of broader tax reform packages.
Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) has introduced a tax plan that would lower both the income and sales tax rates while expanding the sales tax base to include advertising and other services. The House Ways and Means Committee began a series of hearings on the proposal this week. The Committee will not formally vote on the bill, but will give recommendations to the Finance Committee which will begin the process of formally moving, rejecting or rewriting the reforms. AAF Ohio members are working in cooperation with a broader industry coalition to oppose the tax on advertising and express that opposition to lawmakers.
In a recent radio interview, Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield revealed that the Administration of Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is considering a tax on media advertising purchases to offset revenue lost by the proposed elimination of corporate and personal income taxes. Barfield said that no decisions have been made and nothing has yet been introduced. AAF-Baton Rouge President Hunter Territo expressed the industry’s strong opposition to the tax on in press reports about Barfield’s comments. As in Ohio and Minnesota, the AAF Louisiana ad clubs are working the allied groups in state to oppose an effort to tax advertising.
Sequestration To Affect FTC, FCC
The $85 billion in budget cuts under the recently imposed sequestration will hit the federal agencies that oversee the advertising and media businesses. How this might affect their regulatory mission is as yet uncertain. The Federal Trade Commission is facing cuts of $16 million of its $314 million budget. The Federal Communications Commission will see cuts of $17 million in a budget of $342 million. The FTC has said it “anticipates that it will be able to operate without significant impact to its mission to preserve competition and protect American consumers” and that it does not plan any employee furloughs. The FCC has said the proper measures have taken place to avoid drastic changes but stated it may still harm “vital agency missions including public safety and homeland security, law enforcement, universal service, spectrum and consumer protection.” Businesses should expect that actions before both agencies may take longer to conclude than prior to sequestration.
Advocacy and Action: Advertising Day on the Hill
An outstanding program is coming together for AAF’s Advocacy and Action: Advertising Day on the Hill. In addition to FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez, confirmed speakers include two of the most important figures for advertising issues in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Representative Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, is chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. This subcommittee is the first stop for any new tax proposals or other revenue raising measures. Any effort to limit the full tax deductibility of advertising expenses would go through this subcommittee.
Representative Lee Terry, R-Neb., is chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission and most non-tax advertising issues such as food marketing to children and privacy.
In addition to hearing from influential speakers, participants will also have the opportunity to go to Capitol Hill to express their views to their own Representatives in Congress.
Other speakers will be announced soon. We urge you to register now for this important and exciting conference.
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The AAF protects and promotes advertising at all levels of government through grassroots activities. Our nation-wide network monitors advertising-related legislation on local, state and federal levels. We put our members face-to-face with influential lawmakers while encouraging self-regulation as a preemptor to government intervention, when appropriate of course. To learn more about our advocacy efforts, click here.