January 28, 2021

Maryland Digital Ad Tax to Be Decided Soon

The Maryland House of Delegates has tentatively set February 8, as the date to vote on overriding Governor Larry Hogan’s (R) veto of the digital ad tax. If the House votes to override the veto, it would then go to the Maryland Senate. Because the tax is a priority of Democratic leaders in the General Assembly, and their party holds super-majorities in both chambers, convincing enough lawmakers to vote sustain the veto and kill the tax is a daunting challenge.

The American Advertising Federation, AAF Baltimore and AAF Greater Frederick continue to work with Marylanders for Tax Fairness, a broad industry coalition opposing the digital ad tax. AAF members are contacting Maryland lawmakers directly to ask them to vote to sustain the Governor’s veto. Should our efforts fail and the tax is implemented, it is likely to be challenged in court as a violation of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act.

In Washington, State Representative Vandana Slatter’s (D-Bellevue) proposed digital advertising tax appears to be stalled. While there has been no official confirmation, this may be because the state Department of Revenue has given the measure a negative recommendation. AAF has urged our Washington members to stay in contact with lawmakers and continue to express opposition to any effort to tax advertising.

Privacy Update

True to expectations, multiple states have seen the introduction of privacy legislation. Unfortunately, there is very little uniformity of how they approach the issue. AAF believes that together the inconsistency of these measures underscores our believe that Congress should pass, and President Biden should sign, a national privacy law.

As previously reported, AAF continues to work with our partners in Privacy for America to advocate for a national privacy standard. We remain hopeful that this is an issue in which Congress will be able to overcome polarization and reach a bi-partisan agreement. Legislation introduced by leading members of both parties have been introduced with many areas of agreement – with each other and with industry. As this issue moves forward, AAF grassroots will be important to demonstrate local support for a national standard.

As an advocate of a national privacy standard, AAF does not support state legislation. We have, however provided comments in many states in order to mitigate some of the more harmful aspects of proposed laws. This year we have provided testimony and more detailed comments on privacy legislation in Washington. We have also submitted comments and an executive summary on a North Dakota measure, as well as comments on a proposal in Virginia.

Government Affairs Committee

The next AAF Government Affairs Committee zoom call has been scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, February 10. In addition to our usual legislative review, we will be joined by a representative of AAF member Facebook to hear about their many initiatives to advance privacy, address misinformation on their platform and other issues of importance. Look for an invitation to arrive in your inbox soon.

Day on the Hill

Due to delays in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and uncertainty as to the new, ongoing security restrictions in Washington, DC and at the Capitol complex, AAF has made the difficult decision not to conduct the Advertising Day on the Hill in May of 2021 as previously announced. We look forward to resuming this important event when it is safe to do so. Thank you to all AAF members for your understanding and support.