Breaking News: PPAI On Capitol Hill Today To Oppose Bill Targeting Promotional Products
This morning, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, and Stephanie Critchfield, vice president and national sales manager at distributor The Vernon Company, based in Newton, Iowa, visited the offices of Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa to discuss legislation introduced by Sen. Ernst that takes direct aim at the promotional products industry. The pair met with Tyler Brown, the Senator's legislative aide who handles economics and public finance, education, finance and the financial sector, and taxation. A second meeting is planned this afternoon for Bellantone and Cliff Andrews, PPAI's D.C.-based lobbyist, with the committee staff director for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who co-sponsored the bill.
Sen. Ernst's bill, "S.2722, A bill to prohibit agencies from using federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for other purposes," was introduced on October 29 and has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Also referred to as the "Stop Wasteful Advertising by the Government Act," or the SWAG Act, it names a series of prohibitions against federal spending on advertising including "a product or merchandise distributed at no cost with the sole purpose of advertising or promoting an agency, organization, program or agenda." The bill's text goes on to name several products that are popular in the promotional products industry, such as apparel, thermoses and tote bags, along with numerous other items.
Bellantone and Critchfield discussed with Brown that while PPAI is in favor of balanced budgets and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, promotional products companies and practitioners are an important part of their communities and economy, and that promotional products are proven to be one of the most effective forms of media available to advertisers. The messages they carry help governments at every level keep their citizens informed and well prepared.
"We learned that the purpose of this legislation was to stop government agencies from promoting themselves, not to prevent them from educating consumers on agency programs," says Bellantone. "Senator Ernst's office is reaching out to the agencies right now to try to find the language that would allow them to accomplish their specific objective versus a blanket statement that harms our media. We've asked for a place at the table in creating that language and for continued progress on this bill."
Bellantone adds, "This bill is still in the very early stages right now, but we've started the process by making them aware of the unintended consequences of using a chainsaw instead of a scalpel in crafting legislation. There is still a lot of work to do. It was critically important to have Stephanie Critchfield, a fourth-generation member of The Vernon Company and one of Senator Ernst's constituents at the meeting this morning. Our success will be a combination of our trade association's efforts, direct contact from constituents and powerful influence from our industry at large. I urge all PPAI members to remain active and vigilant on this issue."
PPAI encourages industry members to add their voice to the Association's efforts and take action now by emailing Sen. Ernst and Sen. Paul, and their legislators in Washington, D.C. to ensure they are watching out for our industry's interests.
PPAI also has an active lobbying presence in Washington, D.C. to monitor these types of legislative initiatives. The S. 2722 bill will be added to PPAI's Legislative Agenda as part on the Association's annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) event where PPAI leaders and industry professionals meet directly with their members of Congress. L.E.A.D. will take place in Washington, D.C. May 6-7, 2020.