AAF Government Report | April 2018

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March 29, 2018Clark Rector, Jr., Executive Vice President of Government Affairs

Senator Targets DTC Ads

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO, has introduced legislation to take away the federal tax deduction for the advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals. Similar legislation has been introduced in past Congresses but not given serious consideration. However, with President’s recent emphasis on lowering the price of pharmaceuticals AAF will keep a close watch on this bill.

In supporting the bill, the Senator mischaracterizes the deduction of this normal and necessary business expense as a taxpayer subsidy and a reason for high drug prices. AAF is unaware of any research that shows that DTC advertising raises drug prices. In fact, past Federal Trade Commission studies have shown that advertising helps to lower the price of products. DTC advertising can also be an important source of information for consumers and often prompts visits to their physicians who can then recommend the appropriate course of action.

State Privacy Bills Introduced

Bills have been considered in the Maine and Massachusetts legislatures intending to protect the privacy of their citizens’ online data.  AAF and many of our industry allies have written to lawmakers in both states explaining the effectiveness of current federal privacy protections and the harm that would come to consumers if states were to adopt inconsistent and overly restrictive requirements. While the Massachusetts legislation addresses both privacy and net neutrality, the industry letter only addresses the privacy issues.  Both bills have been the subject of hearings, but no votes as of this writing.

Online Advertising Webinar Scheduled

AAF is a strong supporter of self-regulation, as both a smart business practice and a defense against overzealous government regulation. The AAF supported Digital Advertising Alliance establishes and enforces responsible privacy practices across the industry for digital advertising.

The DAA has scheduled a Webinar for April 5 on a vital matter for the digital ad ecosystem in 2018… making sure brands, publishers, and their advertising partners are ensuring proper transparency and notice on their sites and apps, just as they do in their interest-based ads. This free webinar is open to all AAF members.

DAA will be joined by corporate counsel as well as a representative of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (which helps to enforce the program) for a DAA Principles compliance focused Webinar that will provide stakeholders with practical steps to take now to ensure consumer transparency and control are being adequately provided on sites and in apps. Interested members can register for this free webinar here.

Senate Committee Considers FTC Nominees

In February, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing on President Trump’s four nominees to serve as Federal Trade Commission Commissioners:

For the past year the Commission has been led by only two Commissioners, Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny. The Committee has advanced all four nominations to the full Senate. No vote has yet been scheduled.

AAF Club Members Meet with State Lawmakers

AAF members in many states have visited with state legislators in their state capitols to educate them about importance of advertising in their states to help create jobs and grow the economy and the harm of potential anti-advertising laws.

On February 6th, AAF’s 4th District (Florida) had a very successful Advertising Day in Tallahassee. AAF’s Florida members have met with lawmakers every year since 1987 when the state enacted – and quickly repealed – a tax on advertising and other services. The event occurs whether or not there is pending legislation related to the advertising industry. As AAF’s 4th District Government Relations Chairman Mike Bates said, “By showing the flag every year, we help prevent detrimental laws from being introduced at all.”

AAF Omaha and AAF Lincoln team up each year to host a Legislative Meet & Greet with Nebraska State Senators in the capitol of Lincoln to speak with state representatives about issues important to the advertising community. This year’s event was held on February 7th and featured a brief presentation from Ryan Horn, AAF Omaha Legislative Team Member, about the role advertising plays in cultivating a creative Nebraska, and Andy Roback the CEO of Flood Communications who talked about the role his television and radio stations play across the state of Nebraska in supporting young people in rural communities with interests in broadcasting and advertising.

On March 13th, AAF Des Moines hosted their 11th annual legislative breakfast at Iowa’s Ad Day at the Capitol. Members of AAF Des Moines met with legislators at the Iowa State Capitol to discuss the importance of advertising in the state and about the club’s efforts that were voiced on the federal level during the tax reform bill. AAF Des Moines has a long history of prioritizing the role of government relations and continually works to grow their efforts beyond their annual event at their Capitol.

For more information about conducting a legislative event in your state, contact AAF EVP-Government Affairs Clark Rector.

The next AAF Day on the Hill will be in Washington, DC in early 2019. Look for more information on that exciting event soon.

The AAF Government Report is available to all members of the AAF. If you are interested in receiving an emailed copy, please email government@aaf.org.

If you are interested in receiving the AAF SmartBrief, an opt-in news service, please visit www.smartbrief.com/aaf. The AAF SmartBrief condenses advertising industry news from dozens of media sources into a succinct, easy to read email.

Go to the AAF’s Advocacy webpage.


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