PPAI Connects With Lawmakers On Bill Targeting Promotional Products
Last Friday, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE; Stephanie Critchfield, vice president and national sales manager at distributor The Vernon Company, based in Newton, Iowa, and Cliff Andrews, PPAI’s D.C.-based lobbyist, were on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers about a new bill that directly affects the promotional products industry. Bellantone and Critchfield met with staff at the offices of Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa (above, with Sen. Ernst's legislative aid, Tyler Brown), who introduced the legislation, and later Bellantone and Andrews met with staff of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who co-sponsored it.
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.
In conversations with the Senators’ staffs, Bellantone says he found them to be open to PPAI’s position that, while the Association 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 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 to keep citizens informed, safe 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 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 of 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.
Follow PPB Newslink to learn more about the bill’s progress, how PPAI and its partners are carrying the industry’s message to Capitol Hill and what industry members can do to educate Congress on the effectiveness of promotional products and advocate for the industry.