Congress - On June 8, 2009, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY2010) Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill, including $7.37 billion for the Census Bureau. This is the same amount the Obama Administration requested, representing a 135 percent funding increase (about $4.23 billion) over FY 2009. MRA joined with our allies in support of this funding most recently on the day of the markup, and helped rally support.
Congress – The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved Dr. Robert Groves’ nomination to be director of the U.S. Census Bureau on May 20, sending the nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. Unfortunately, his confirmation has been delayed, possibly by a secret Senate procedure known as a “hold.” MRA is working with our allies to move Dr. Groves’ nomination forward. From early this year, we pressured the President to nominate a Director and the Commerce Secretary to help, and endorsed Dr. Groves before he testified in Committee.
VT – Governor James Douglas (R) has signed S.B. 48 (discussed in March’s Update and last month’s newsletter) into law, banning gifts to healthcare providers. The new law prohibits pharmaceutical, biological product or medical device manufacturers and wholesale distributors and their agents from providing any gift of any value to healthcare providers, including gifts for marketing related activities. Marketing is defined to include the “promotion, detailing or any activity that is intended to be used or is used to influence sales or market share or to evaluate the effectiveness of a professional sales force.”
NV - Governor Gibbons (R) has signed S.B. 227 into law. The new law prohibits any businesses in Nevada from (1) transmitting personal information outside of the secure system of the business or (2) moving any data storage device beyond the logical or physical boundaries of the business, unless secured by encryption. A data storage device is defined as “any device that stores information or data from any electronic or optical medium, including, but not limited to, computers, cellular telephones, magnetic tape, electronic computer drives and optical computer drives and the medium itself. Encryption is defined as “the protection of data in electronic or optical form, in storage or in transit, using: (1) An encryption technology that has been adopted by an established standards setting body, including, but not limited to, the Federal Information Processing Standards issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which renders such data indecipherable in the absence of associated cryptographic keys necessary to enable decryption of such data; and (2) Appropriate management and safeguards of cryptographic keys to protect the integrity of the encryption using guidelines promulgated by an established standards setting body, including, but not limited to, the National Institute of Standards and Technology.” The law also requires any business in Nevada that accepts payment by a credit card for goods or services to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The new law applies to all businesses in Nevada, including survey and opinion research companies located in Nevada. The new provisions go into effect January 1, 2010.
DE - Rep. Byron Short (D) has introduced H.B. 185, which would require all businesses that make an automated telephone call with a pre-recorded or automated voice message in support of and/or against a political party to state certain disclosures prior to the beginning of the call. The bill also provides time of day restrictions and limits the number of automated calls per candidate to three daily. The bill does not define any terms and thus could be construed to include automated calls made for survey research purposes. MRA will be in contact with the sponsor of this bill to seek clarity and an exemption for the profession.
Congress - Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced the “Robocall Privacy Act” (S. 1077), which would set time of day calling restrictions, require certain disclosures and limit the number of calls per day for “political robocalls.” “Political robocalls” are defined as any outbound calls that use a “recorded message” instead of a live caller and “which promote, support, attack or oppose a candidate for Federal office.” MRA worked with the Senator’s staff before the legislation was introduced in the last Congress to ensure that the Robocall Privacy Act had no negative impact on the survey and opinion research profession (since legitimate research calls do not promote, support, attack or oppose Federal candidates). However, MRA will now seek to add an exemption for “message testing” research, as we secured in Louisiana in 2008.
Congress – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14) introduced the Voters’ Right to Know Act (H.R. 2370), which would require the operator of any “federal election phone bank” to disclose certain information to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). “Federal election phone bank” is defined as “a project under which an aggregate number of not fewer than 1,500 households are contacted by telephone during the 25-day period which ends on the date of an election for Federal office.” The bill further clarifies the definition, to include when respondents “are asked to state a preference in the election or to state the likelihood of their support of any candidate,” or “provided with any information regarding a clearly identified candidate for such office.” Although H.R. 2370 explicitly exempts phone banks conducted by the mainstream news media, it would include a lot of political and public opinion polling. MRA will be working with Rep. Maloney to protect legitimate research and target this bill more carefully on political persuasion calls (“push polls”).
NY - Sen. Stewart-Cousins (D) has introduced S.B. 3863, amending the election law to require disclosure when conducting campaign persuasion calls. The legislation also requires that all polls must disclose the: questionnaire, sponsor, method, time, sample size, results and organization that conducted the poll at least 48 hours prior to the release of the polling results. MRA supports the sponsor’s goal of distinguishing persuasion from legitimate campaign polls; however, the bill is overbroad and implicates legitimate campaign polls. MRA will be in contact with the sponsor to seek a clear distinction for legitimate campaign polling practices.
PA - Rep. Schroder (R) has introduced H.B. 1227 to amend Pennsylvania’s do not call law to include calls made for political purposes. The legislation amends the definition of telemarketing to include calls made on behalf of any political party or political candidate. A telephone solicitation is amended to include “a call made to a residential or wireless telephone subscriber for the purpose of promoting or expressing opposition to any political candidate or political party.” The legislation also requires calls made for political purposes to disclose the sponsor. Although survey and opinion research is implicitly exempt from Pennsylvania’s state do not call law, the law does not explicitly say so. As a result, this broad amendment could include political polls. MRA will work with Rep. Schroder to seek a clear exemption for survey research.
Telephone Solicitation/Do Not Call
AL - H.B. 93, sponsored by Rep. Chenault (R), has been enrolled. The bill amends the definitions of a telephone solicitation to include telephone calls made to cell phones to the state do not call law. Calls made for survey research purposes still have an explicit exemption in Alabama law.
NY - Sen. Adams (D) has introduced S.B. 3763 and Assemblywoman Pheffer (D) has introduced A.B. 7563 (a companion bill), which would amend the state do not call registry. The bills expand the definition of a telemarketing sales call to include “any outbound telephone calling technology that delivers a prerecorded message either to customer or to their voicemail or answering machine service” for sales or commercial purposes. The amendment also provides time of day restrictions for telemarketing calls and new telemarketer disclosure requirements. S.B. 3763 and A.B. 7563 only apply to telemarketing and sales-related calls, so there are no negative implications for survey and opinion research.
VA - Gov. Kaine (D) has signed S.B. 910 into law, prohibiting callers from using an automatic dialing-announcing device (ADAD) to make a commercial telephone solicitation unless the subscriber has requested, consented to, permitted or authorized receipt of the message or unless the message is preceded by a live operator who obtains the subscriber’s consent before the message is delivered. An automatic dialing-announcing device is defined as “a device that (i) selects and dials telephone numbers and (ii) working alone or in conjunction with other equipment, disseminates a prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called.” A commercial telephone solicitation is defined as “means any unsolicited call to a subscriber when (i) the person initiating the call has not had a prior business or personal relationship with the subscriber and (ii) the purpose of the call is to solicit the purchase or the consideration of the purchase of goods or services by the subscriber.” There are minimal implications for survey research since the law applies to sales related uses only.
CT – S.B. 1049 (as reported in April’s Update) has died as a result of the end of the legislative session.
ME – H.P. 881 (as reported in May’s Update) has been recommended for carryover to the next legislative session.
MN - H.B. 1641 (as reported in April’s Update) has been recommended for carryover until the next legislative session.
IA - H.B. 547, (as reported in April’s Update) has been voted for carryover to the next state legislative session.
TX - S.B. 151, ((as reported in February’s Update) has died as a result of state session adjournment.
OK - S.B. 379 (as reported in Februay’s Update) has been voted for carryover to the next state legislative session.
Telephone Push Polls
TX - S.B. 307 (as reported in February’s Update) has died as a result of state session adjournment.
WV - H.B. 2495 (as reported in March’s Update) has died as a result of state session adjournment.
Telephone Solicitation/Do Not Call
OK - S.B. 413, (as reported in April’s Update) has been voted for carryover to the next state legislative session.
OK - S.B. 504 (as reported in February’s Update) has been voted for carryover to the next state legislative session.
OK - H.B. 2050 (as reported in April’s Update) has been voted for carryover to the next state legislative session.
WV - H.B. 2290 (as reported in April’s Update) has died as a result of the end of the legislative session.
FL - H.B. 781 (as reported in April’s Update) has died as a result of state session adjournment.
WV - H.B. 2124 (as reported in March’s Update) has died as a result of state session adjournment.