MD withdraws do-not-mail bill; VT, AR introduce bills

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Do-not-mail bill activity is not slowing as one bill has been 
withdrawn and two new ones have been introduced in Vermont and Arkansas.
Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, withdrew his bill, 
SB548, on March 6. The bill, introduced Feb. 2, had nine 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-not-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, HB718.
Meanwhile, two other states 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 Rep. Christopher 
Pearson, also a Democrat, introduced a similar bill, H0490.
Besides Arkansas and Vermont, do-not-mail bills that include a do-not-
mail registry 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 21.
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.
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.
Keith Goodman, vice president of corporate solutions at Carlsbad, CA-
based Modern Postcard, a provider of direct mail advertising and marketing services, said the direct mail industry is not too alarmed by the state-proposed do-not-mail bills.
"The DMA already has a similar do-not-mail list in place, where 
consumers can register to have their names taken off national 
marketing lists," he said. "Most marketers are already scrubbing 
their mailing lists against [the list] to be sure they are up-to-date 
and as clean as possible.  With this in mind, I predict that the 
bills will soon be dropped in Arkansas and Vermont, just as they were 
recently dismissed in Colorado and Montana."
Mr. Goodman said that if direct marketers are completely opposed to 
the proposed registries, they can certainly take a stand by 
expressing their opinions to state representatives.
However, "if some states pass these bills, it would be good news for 
the majority of direct marketers as it would force them to offer 
better, more targeted lists in the states that pass the legislation," 
he said. "Most progressive direct marketers are already utilizing the 
latest direct mail applications to ensure that their mailers are 
going to the appropriate contacts and communicating relevant 
messages.  Lastly, if some states end up passing the bill, DMers may 
need to add an extra step to their list processing, but this is not a 
cause for concern."

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