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Direct Marketers Scuttle Parental-Consent Provision

June 06, 1997|Legi-Tech News Service

California's $127-billion direct-marketing industry appears to have successfully scotched a bill provision that would have required it to get approval from parents before targeting their children with marketing messages.

William Burke, a spokesman for the Direct Marketing Assn., said the requirement for prior parental consent would have "wiped out" the 300 or so companies that do direct marketing in California because of the increased cost of sending consent forms and maintaining records.

Proponents argued that the measure was necessary because some sex offenders have purchased commercial mailing lists to target potential victims.

In February, Whittier Sen. Charles Calderon, a law-and-order Democrat with ambitions to run for state attorney general next year, introduced SB 1254, a four-part bill intended to protect children from sex offenders. One provision required direct-mail firms to get parental consent to market products to kids.

Despite support for the bill by child advocates such as the Klass Foundation for Children, the bill working its way through the Legislature today bears little resemblance to its original form, having been stripped of the parental consent provision after heavy opposition from the direct-marketing industry.

"If this passed," Burke said, "we couldn't even send out children's magazines like Sesame Street and Highlights."

Other organizations also opposed the direct-mail provision in the Calderon bill, including a number of universities that were concerned that the parental-consent requirement might hamper demographic research.

"This provision is about protection and privacy," Calderon said, "but these business interests oppose anything that will cut into their business, including the safety of children."

Calderon said he is considering adding the parental-consent provision to other legislation this session.

Hot Bills

* Insurance Taxation

Bottom line: The state wants to recoup the $14 million or so it turned up annually when the Department of Insurance audited the tax returns of the state's insurance companies and brokers--a practice dropped when staff was cut. The plan is to turn the function over to the state tax agency.

Chances: The insurance industry is unnerved at the prospect of an aggressive agency such as the Board of Equalization, with no particular concerns for its solvency, doing the audits and opposes the move.

Next step: Assembly hearing; no date scheduled.

Details: SB 956 author Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-North Hollywood) can be reached at (916) 445-7928.

* Shooting-Range Liability

Bottom line: As suburbs encroach, shooting- range operators want immunity from civil and criminal liability stemming from noise complaints.

Chances: This bill is the only one sponsored by the National Rifle Assn. this session. Similar legislation was vetoed by the governor last year because of concerns by local governments trying to regulate the noise.

Next step: Assembly hearing; no date scheduled.

Details: SB 517 author Raymond Haynes (R-Murrieta) can be reached at (916) 445-9781.

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