GCPPA And PPAFlorida’s Efforts Pay Off; Florida Amends Law Limiting Promotional Products Use In Healthcare
Through the diligent efforts of the Gold Coast Promotional Products Association (GCPPA), the Promotional Products Association of Florida (PPAFlorida) and industry professionals, on Friday, March 9, 2012, the Florida legislature passed a bill correcting a 2008 home healthcare law’s overly broad prohibition of remuneration.
In 2008, the Florida legislature passed a home healthcare bill that, within its 28 pages, included a provision outlawing the giving of “remuneration of any size” to doctors, nurses or any referral source in healthcare. While the intent was to outlaw big honoraria, country club memberships, cruises, etc., from being given to these individuals in exchange for their endorsement or referrals, the legislation was written so broadly that it also prohibited pens, notepads, coasters or any other product businesses might use to help promote their brand to healthcare professionals.
Promotional products, at the time, were not on Florida legislators’ radar. Upon becoming aware of the law, GCPPA and PPAFlorida instituted a campaign to build awareness about the promotional products industry in the state capitol and to push for a change in the law.
After two legislative sessions, the tireless work of Mary Ann Stiles of Stiles & Grace, P.A., the lobbyist representing the industry in Tallahassee; two promotional products days in the state capitol; and the work of Senator Jack Latvala and Representative Jim Frishe, who sponsored the amendment, the legislation that rectified the 2008 law passed in the final minutes of the 2012 session. The language amending the 2008 law was included in House Bill 787 relating to nursing care.
PPAFlorida’s Wayne Greenberg, MAS, of JB of Florida-A Division of Geiger, who helped develop and push the legislative reform program, says: “You can’t give up. In Florida, there are 2,000 bills introduced in the legislature in an average session. Maybe 70 make it to floor for discussion. The numbers are so great; don’t give up if in the first year or two your amendment doesn’t make it through. Keep at it and consider it part of the learning process for those you need to pass it. Don’t for a second think a politician knows what a promotional product is.”
The amendment to the earlier law dictating no remuneration at any level changes to the language to read: ‘Remuneration’ means any payment or other benefit made directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind. However, if the term is used in any provision of law relating to healthcare providers, the term does not apply to an item that has an individual value of up to $15, including, but not limited to, a plaque, a certificate, a trophy or a novelty item that is intended solely for presentation or is customarily given away solely for promotional, recognition or advertising purposes.”
“It was a challenge, but if everyone works together, it can get done,” says Joseph Miller, co-owner of AIA-LogoTools and GCPPA’s RAC delegate, and one of the architects of the Florida associations’ initiative. “We only succeeded with the support of our constituents, who not only contributed their resources to the project, but helped build awareness in Tallahassee and keep the pressure on our legislators.”
GCPPA and PPAFlorida also worked to educate lawmakers on promotional products, their importance as an advertising medium particularly valuable to small businesses and the size of the industry—nearly 22,000 people work in the industry in Florida alone. The associations scheduled a series of Promotional Products Days to bring the industry to the state capitol. Suppliers set up tables to present their products, show how they’re used and dispel the notion that they’re just gifts and giveaways.
The members of GCPPA and PPAFlorida have put forth considerable effort, resources and work into getting the law amended. And while it took more than two years to reach completion, their endeavor corrects the unintended consequences of the 2008 law and gives the industry renewed visibility and influence within the Florida legislature.