February 13, 2002

Legislative Activity

Date: February 13, 2002

To: AAF Maryland Ad Club Members

From: Clark Rector, Jr., Vice President-State Government Affairs
Jennifer Akridge-Government Affairs

Re: Maryland Senate Bills 679 and 680

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George's County) has introduced Senate Bills 679 and 680 to restrict advertising and marketing in schools. SB 679 would require school boards to adopt certain policies to impede advertising and marketing contracts in schools while SB 680 would impose nutritional requirements on vending machine products.

Specifically, SB 679 would require school boards adopt a policy that would make compulsory written parental notification anytime advertising would be used in the classroom or learning centers and adopt corporate agreements only at public hearings. It would also prohibit all advertising on school buses.

AAF objects to SB 679 because it unnecessarily restricts local school boards. AAF believes that local officials are fully capable of determining the correct amount of commercial activity in their schools. In fact, we support their right to not to enter into any commercial agreements at all.

SB 679 would appear to require that schools provide written notice to parents for each contract, and possibly for each advertisement. This would be an administrative nightmare and be a drain on precious resources and staff time.

SB 680 would prohibit vending machines sales of "food of minimal nutritional value" until after the last lunch period. The bill does not recognize that all foods, when consumed with proper moderation, can be a part of a balanced diet. Instead of restricting food sales, AAF believes that a better approach to student health is to increase both nutrition education and opportunities for physical activity and education.

The ultimate result of both of these pieces of legislation would be a reduction in commercial agreements, which would have the negative effect of reducing both services and products available to students, and a welcome source of non-tax revenue to schools.

I urge you to contact your state senator and urge him or her to oppose SB 679 and SB 680. You may send an e-mail to your senator or input your address and learn who represents you at http://mlis.state.md.us.

Please do hesitate to call us at 1-800-999-2231 if you have any questions.

Related article in ADWEEK: Read more on AAF's response in "School-Advertising Bills Put Lobbyists on Alert" at http://www.adweek.com/adweek/headlines/advertising_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1347917