Physician Incentives
CT - S.B. 1049 (as reported in last month’s Update), sponsored by the Joint Committee on Public Health, has advanced out of the Legislative Commissioner’s Office. MRA has increased efforts in an attempt to protect pharmaceutical research in Connecticut.

ME – Rep. Treat (D) has introduced H.P. 881, which would ban all “gift[s], fee[s], payment[s], subsid[ies] or other economic benefit to a healthcare practitioner” made by pharmaceutical, biologic and medical device manufacturers and labelers, including “a market research survey or other activity undertaken in support of developing advertising or marketing strategies.” MRA considers this bill a priority, and is particularly troubled by the explicit inclusion of marketing research in such a detrimental bill. MRA will be in contact with Rep. Treat, and considers this bill a serious threat to the research profession.

OR – H.B. 2468 (as referenced in the March Update), sponsored by Rep. Greenlick (D), has advanced from the House Committee on Healthcare and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Although MRA has been aggressively challenging this legislation, H.B. 2468 is likely to be passed into law.

WI – Rep. Roth (R) has introduced A.B. 93, which would expand the definition of telephone solicitation to include automatic dialing announcing devices. An automatic dialing announcing device is defined as a device that: “1. Dials a telephone number, 2. Disseminates whether alone or in conjunction with another device, a prerecorded or synthesized voice message.” The legislation has exemptions, none of which perfectly accommodates survey research activities. MRA will request that Rep. Roth exempt research activities from A.B. 93.

Caller ID
IA - Gov. Chet Culver (D) has signed H.B. 776 into law. Sponsored by the House State Government Committee, H.B. 776 prohibits the use of false caller identification information with the intent to defraud for the purposes of advocating the nomination, election or defeat of a candidate or ballot issue. The new law does not apply to legitimate political polling, and should not impact legitimate survey and opinion research practices. However, MRA always advocates that researchers strive for “Truth in Caller ID.”

Political Calls
IL - Sen. Silverstein (D) introduced S.B. 146, which has passed in the Senate. It would amend the Election Code and makes it a Class C misdemeanor to use an automatic dialing announcing device to deliver a message that expressly advocates the nomination, election or defeat of a state or local candidate without disclosing the sponsor of the call. There are no negative implications for survey research in this legislation, as survey and opinion research is explicitly exempt from this provision: “nothing in this subsection shall require disclosure on any telephone communication using random sampling or other scientific survey methods to gauge public opinion for or against any candidate or question of public policy.” MRA supports S.B. 146.

NC - Reps. Harrison (D) and Martin (D) have introduced H.B. 974, which amends the definition of telephone solicitation to include a political message “if the message is communicated by use of an automatic dialing and recorded message player.” Survey research messages may be included in the definition as currently drafted, therefore, MRA will be seeking an explicit exemption to this highly threatening legislation.

VA - Gov. Tim Kaine (D) has signed S.B. 910 into law. Sponsored by Sen. Stuart (R), S.B. 910 prohibits callers from using an automatic dialing-announcing device 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. A commercial telephone solicitation is defined as “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.” The new law applies to sales calls only, and should pose no impediment to legitimate survey and opinion research practices.