Maryland withdraws do-not-mail bill; Vermont, Arkansas introduce their own

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Do-not-mail bill activity is not slowing down as one bill has been withdrawn and two new ones have been introduced in two states.

Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, withdrew his bill, SB 548, on March 6. The bill, which was introduced Feb. 2, had 9 co-sponsors. It required the division of consumer protection of the office of the attorney general to establish and provide for the operation of a restricted mailing registry similar to the do-nor-call registry.

Recently, legislators in Colorado and Montana pulled do-not-mail bills.

On March 1, state Rep. Sara Gagliardi, a Democrat, tabled her bill, the Colorado Junk Mail Opt-Out List Act, HB1303, saying that it could be introduced at a later time. On Feb. 22, Rep. Franke Wilmer, a Democrat, killed her bill, the Montana Do-Not-Mail Act, HB 718. Both bills called for creating a do-not-mail registry similar to the do-not-call registry.

Two other states, however, have introduced new do-not-mail bills.

The latest is Arkansas. Its bill, HB2725, was introduced by Rep. George Overbey, a Democrat, on March 5. The bill calls for the attorney general to establish and maintain a do-not-mail registry similar to the do-not-call registry. On Feb. 27, Vermont Representative Christopher Pearson, also a Democrat, introduced a similar bill, H0490.

The direct mail community is keeping a close eye on do-not-mail bills that have been introduced to state legislators this year in hopes that passage of the bills is blocked.

Besides Arkansas and Vermont, do-not-mail bills that include a do-not-mail registry similar to do-not-call legislation are pending in Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas and Washington.

In most cases, marketers who mail solicitations to people on these lists would have to pay fines of several thousand dollars per violation. In all cases, nonprofits and politicians would be exempt. There would be a business relationship exemption as well.

Several other bills - in New York, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington - offer related measures including the creation of a do-not-mail registry of certain senior citizens and people with mental illness. Another would prohibit mailing credit card solicitations to people under the age of 21.

The mailing community is working hard to stop the passing of these bills. The Direct Marketing Association, for example, is working with its state lobbyists and the Mail Moves America Coalition to educate consumers and states. The coalition, spearheaded by the DMA, is comprised of major mailing associations and other groups.

Reps. Gagliardi and Wilmer said they were approached by unions and associations as well as paper companies and other members of the mailing industry about the harm the bills would cause.

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