Mail Moves America Update

 

March 2009

 

Mail Moves America is in its second year, and in that short period of time.  We have had to fight Do Not Mail legislation in 20 different states. Through 2008, the coalition has been able to convince legislators in these states that Do Not Mail legislation is unwise and unnecessary. These bills would cost many jobs and hurt small businesses.

 

While the coalition has been a success, we need the industry to step forward to support this effort in a way that would be ideal.  Virtually every association in the printing, mailing, publishing and supplying industries have joined, however only 23 companies so far have committed to this effort.

 

What is this effort?  DMA organized the coalition in 2006 because it was clear that the cost of fighting this effort in the states would be beyond the means and budget of any one organization.   Using DMA assets, the coalition must monitor legislative activity in 50 states and be prepared to respond quickly at all times.  We must also be prepared to respond to media inquiries in print and electronic channels as well as develop the website, position papers, and assure that industry facts and figures are available, up to date and accurate.

 

We all agree that failure in one state is not an option.  Once one domino falls, it would be difficult to stop the tide and we are already seeing legislation in three states and one city in 2009!   This is an urgent appeal to support Mail Moves America.  We need your grassroots support but we also need financial support.  Please contact MMA Executive Director Ben Cooper at bycooper@wms-jen.com to find out how you can help.

 

And now for the news….

 

With the economy in significant stress, it might have been logical to conclude that environmental groups and others might relax their efforts to cripple small businesses, the U.S. mailing industry and cost the nation thousands of good jobs.   But our opponents are rarely logical... or factual.  Despite the challenges the nation is undergoing, we are having to fight bills introduced in New York, Connecticut and Florida as well as a non-binding resolution before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

 

Here is a quick summary of the bills:

 

Connecticut

 

Two bills have been introduced by CT legislators  - CT HB 5410, a Do Not Mail registry bill introduced by Rep. James O'Rourke, and CT HB 5413, an opt out option bill introduced by Rep. Demetrios Giannaros.  Mail Moves America coalition members in Connecticut have met with the sponsors on the bills and communicated the coalition’s concerns with the legislation. 

 

Florida

 

Companion Do Not Mail bills have been introduced in the Florida House and Senate -- HB 781, filed by Rep. Mary Brandenburg (D- Palm Beach County) and SB 1234, filed by Sen. Dave Aronberg (D-Palm Beach).  The bills are generally the same as others we have seen, with a few exceptions: requiring a $10 initial listing payment from consumers and then a $5 renewal fee (it is unclear how long the initial term is), limiting the 501(c)3 exemption to only “bona fide members” of the organization, and exempting newspaper publishers and their agents or employees.  The Senate bill has been referred to the Commerce Committee. 

 

New York

 

SB 2132, a Do Not Mail bill, has been introduced in New York by Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn).  The bill is a variation on the standard Do Not Mail bill we have seen in that it is styled as a “Do Not Offer” registry.  It exempts only existing business relationships and verbal or written requests from the customer.  Non-profits (and politicians?) appear to be exempted by definition, in that the bill defines a “direct mail marketer” as one who mails for financial profit or commercial purposes.  This is a refile of SB1403 from the 2007-2008 session, which never received initial consideration in the Senate.  However, the November elections brought the Democrats control of the Senate, so the dynamic is somewhat different now.  There are two other bills we are watching in NY that are not Do Not Mail bills per se, but could have a limiting effect on mail in the state.  

 

Also in New York, a bill (A03191) introduced by Assembly Member Audrey Pheffer has passed the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee and has now been referred to the Codes Committee.  The bill requires senders of unsolicited advertisements to provide consumers with an annual written notice of their ability to opt out of receiving future mailings.  While this is not a Do Not Mail bill in the sense of establishing a registry, it places an unnecessary burden on businesses, most of whom likely already maintain and utilize an in house suppression list.  Mail moves America is monitoring this bill closely.  A number of New York based MMA members have already weighed in opposition to the bill.

 

San Francisco

 

We are continuing to closely monitor the non-binding resolution introduced in late 2008 by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and carried over to 2009.  The resolution has been referred to the City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee where no action has been taken on the resolution to date.  We have had good support from MMA members in San Francisco, including members of the Labor Council there, in opposing the resolution.

 

Supervisor Mirkarimi has also recently introduced a new proposal there amending the handbill ordinance to include “unsolicited print publications” defined as “a publication that (1) is printed, published, and circulated at regular intervals, including, but not limited to, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly, bi-annual, and annual circulation, (2) contains at least 3 separate sheets of paper, and (3) has printed matter on at least one side of the paper.”  The proposal has been referred to the City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee.  Although not a Do Not Mail bill, we will watch its progress. 

 

Communication Committee Update

 

The Mail Moves America Communications Committee has taken significant steps in recent months.  The website www.mailmovesamerica.org has been updated including the launch of the “Faces of the Mail” campaign.  We are now accepting applications for new Faces!  The committee has also overseen the development of a brochure which would be used in target states as necessary. We have also developed sample testimony for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors if that should become necessary.   The Communications team will also be working to do a soft outreach to San Francisco reporters in advance of possible increased activity there by Do Not Mail supporters.  The team will identify possible spokespeople in San Francisco, provide them with facts and materials, and ensure that reporters will know how to reach us if they are writing on this issue. 

 

 

Other News

 

From Print in the Mix Fast Facts:

 

Direct Mail is Lead Channel for Promotions

 

According to a study from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA):

Non-catalog direct mail is used by 90% of marketers, agencies, and other suppliers of direct marketing services surveyed.

 

Nearly half (46%) report using it as their primary channel for promotions.

 

Companies that send promotions using non-catalog direct mail spend an average of 46.9% of their company’s total annual ad expenditures on the channel.

 

Most of the companies that promote their products or services using non-catalog direct mail receive responses via the Internet (93.7%), phone (79.5%), or through contact from an internal sales force (70.8%).

 

(http://printinthemix.rit.edu/)

 

 

Postal Service

 

Postmaster General John Potter testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the Postal Service is expected to lose as much as $7 billion this fiscal year and will have to take extraordinary steps to reign in costs.  PMG Potter made national news with the suggestion that eliminating a day of delivery service was one of the options available to reduce costs.  Also, the PMG voiced his support for legislative proposals to delay mandatory payments to the Postal Service retiree medical fund.  Legislation has been introduced in the House to delay these payments by eight years in the House version (HR 22) and a bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate to delay the payments by two years.  The House bill currently has over 70 co-sponsors.

 

An industry coalition has formed around support for this effort.