Today, I had the honor and privilege of representing our advertising industry at the California State Capitol in opposition of Assembly Bill 178 (AB 178) along with nine other amazing people: Alan Gray from NewsBlaze.com, Brook Schaff from Schaaf Consulting, Charlie Graham from ShopItToMe.com, David Lewis from CashBaq.com, Mark Cook from GlobalMountain.com, Ryan Owen from Savings.com, Trisha Lyn Fawver from New Edge Media, Robert Smahl from eBates.com and Lisa Picarille, former editor of Revenue Magazine and current independent consultant. We had eighteen different meetings all over the capitol with various Assemblypersons, Senators, Madam Speaker, staffers and even one surprise meeting with a lobbyist.
Overall, I think the consensus is that the day went well. We spent a majority of each meeting educating the capitol folks on what our industry is, what it is not, how it works and how much this bill will negatively impact our livelihoods and those of their constituents.
I was definitely impressed with the technical savvy of some of the staffers we had meetings with, as well as that of Assemblyman DeVore who excitedly gave us his twitter, @chuckdevore. I was, however, deeply concerned by the complete lack of understanding of even the most basic processes of the industry, especially by some of the folks from Assemblyman Calderon’s office who is Chair of the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee and is co-sponsoring this bill. If you are part of the industry and you are in Mr. Calderon’s district, I urge and implore you to write, call, email and make appointments with him this next week. It is imperative that he be brought up to speed on how much this bill will affect so very many small businesses across the state.
The ten of us split into two groups to better deal with the space constraints of some of the offices and to avoid feeling rushed between meetings. As it was, we were exceedingly busy! We had appointments nearly every half hour from 9:30 AM until 5 PM with several that were double booked. All in all, we managed to meet with the following people:
- Amy Costa (Senator Dean Florez)
- Phil Horner (Assemblyman Anthony J. Portantino)
- Catalina Hayes-Bautista (Assemblywoman Fiona Ma)
- Gayle Miller (Senator Lois Wolk – Chair of the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee)
- Mike Welch (Assemblyman Joe Coto)
- David Lynch (Senator George Runner)
- Ania Garbien (Senator Patricia Wiggins)
- Dave Weiher (Assemblyman Jim Nielsen)
- George Andrews (Assemblywoman Diane L. Harkey)
- Kevin Eastman (Assemblyman Chuck DeVore – Vice Chair of the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee)
- Chris Alvarez (Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña)
- Senator Elanie Alquist
- Ken DeVore (Senator Roy Ashburn)
- Assemblyman Jim Beall Jr.
- Frank Russo (Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner – AB 178 Author)
- Oksana Jaffe and David Ruff (Assemblyman Charles M. Calderon – Chair of the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee)
- Madam Speaker Bass
- Lenny Goldberg (the lobbyist who initially brought this bill to Skinner’s office)
Now the million dollar question everyone wants an answer to…how is everyone voting? At this point unfortunately, it’s still up in the air for many of the Assemblymembers, however in the meetings my group attended, Assemblyman Nielsen and Assemblyman DeVore were both opposed to the bill. Senators Runner and Ashburn were also opposed, but the bill is still in the Assembly, so their votes don’t count as of yet. Assemblywoman Ma and Assemblyman Coto’s staff didn’t come straight out and say that they would vote to support the bill, but both mentioned that since it is sponsored by Calderon’s office and he is the chair of their committee and is also a fellow Democrat, they would be hard pressed to oppose it. Hence the need for a full court press from their constituents.
This fight is far from over folks. If you are a California resident affected by this bill that creates nexus for out of state merchants based upon their advertising on your site, you -need- to step up. On April 13th, the Committee for Revenue and Taxation will vote on this bill at 1:30 pm in Room 126. Between now and then, we need to flood their offices with our opposition. This is your income at stake!