Tag Archives: Government Affairs

Oklahoma Governor’s Promotional Products Spending Directive

Recently, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued an over-reaching directive that singles out and severely limits state spending on promotional products advertising for an indefinite period of time. While several media outlets, also funded by advertising revenue, reported on the ban, none considered or reported on the effectiveness of promotional products advertising or the wide-ranging ramifications it will have on all Oklahomans.

As the number one most effective advertising medium when it comes to driving consumers to take action, building loyalty and generating interest, promotional products must not be unfairly singled out and indiscriminately limited in scope and reach. In response, below is PPAI’s statement released to the media.


STATEMENT

IRVING, TX – December 11, 2017 – Promotional Products Association International today issued the following statement from PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, in response to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s Executive Order 2017-37, which limits spending on promotional products advertising.

“Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) supports balanced budgets and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars; however, the promotional items deemed “nonessential,” according to the Executive Order 2017-37, are anything but. In fact, points raised in the order are exactly why promotional products are one of the most effective, cost-efficient and longest-lasting media used by advertisers, marketers and the State of Oklahoma.

The spending limits set forth by Executive Order 2017-37 unfairly target the promotional products industry and will diminish the ability of the state and its agencies to effectively and efficiently communicate and deliver essential programs and services like education, employment, health care, disaster relief, social services, fire and police protection to the citizens of Oklahoma by eliminating the most useful and tangible form of communication—promotional products.

Senator Kay Floyd of Oklahoma City, said it best:

‘The stress balls save veterans lives. And that stress ball is something that they can carry around with them, but it also has a hotline number or additional information that that veteran needs in order to get benefits or resources from the Department of Veterans Affairs.’

Compared to other media, promotional products advertising is preferred by consumers while other forms of media are often avoided or blocked. Promotional products are one of the fastest-growing and most cost effective advertising media, ranking seventh among traditional and digital media in annual expenditures at $22 billion. On an annual basis, promotional products contribute millions to the Oklahoma economy, with 416 companies providing more than 2700 jobs.

Promotional products are proven to be one of the most effective media available to advertisers. Because promotional products are tangible, useful and highly targeted to the audience they reach, 79 percent of consumers retain them for one to more than five years, and 88 percent recall the advertiser/message, delivering the highest rate of reach, recall and return on investment in the advertising industry.

Promotional products educate, recruit, highlight safety awareness, urge organ donations and encourage healthy living and lifestyle choices. Promotional products recognize and reward employee achievements and inspire action. Promotional products are used to celebrate milestones, sign legislation and reinforce life-saving messages. Promotional products are the most cost-effective method to communicate important messages to Oklahomans.

PPAI and the Oklahoma promotional products industry look forward to working with Oklahoma administration officials to better inform the state’s procurement processes and use of promotional products.”


CALL TO ACTION

The success of our industry depends on us making a strong, collective stand for promotional products as the best marketing tool and advertising medium for communicators. It is our shared responsibility to stand up for the industry because it’s good for consumers, advertisers and marketers and yes, governments. The promotional products industry facilitates communication, prosperity and relationships by helping connect organizations and businesses with their audiences in a tangible and meaningful way.

I ask you to take action to protect the interests of the promotional products industry. Included below are steps you can take now and in the future when these types of reports occur:

  1. Write the Governor and State Representatives today.
  2. Immediately share the news with PPAI by emailing stories/reports to PR@ppai.org
  3. Keep an eye out for rumors and threats to the industry’s credibility–if you hear of something, let us know.
  4. Advocate! Stand up for the industry that has been so good to you and to all of us—defend its good name.
  5. And finally, know the facts. They are strongly in our favor.

Guest Post | Thoughts on PPAI L.E.A.D. in Washington, D.C.

If Coke and Pepsi can set aside their battle of the brands for a worthwhile cause, so too can the promotional products industry. During PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) event held in May, industry representatives from around the country united to encourage our nation’s legislators to consider critical issues important to the entire industry.

Today I am pleased to present a guest post, “Thoughts on PPAI L.E.A.D. in Washington, D.C.”  by Kyle A. Richardson, editorial director of Promo Marketing magazine. This PM blog originally appeared in the June 27, 2016 issue of Promo Marketing.

Thank you, Kyle, for joining us for the PPAI L.E.A.D. We are grateful for your participation and retrospective on the critical importance of our industry’s unified voice in D.C.

~~~~

Last month I had the privilege of joining a select group of promotional products professionals in Washington, D.C., for Promotional Product Association International’s (PPAI) Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). Influential industry members from across the country volunteered their time to head to our nation’s capitol, to raise awareness about our industry and the legislation that impacts suppliers and distributors.

We’ve reported on many of these business topics—independent contractor requirements, the Affordable Care Act, Toxic Substances Control Act reform—but it is another thing entirely to go to D.C. and speak to senators and representatives about our industry, our concerns and our needs. When you see a small section of our community—just 80 volunteers in all—organize more than 300 meetings over two days, you start to appreciate the significance of what PPAI has put together.

It isn’t just the numbers, either: Who was in attendance is just as important. Supplier CEOs, distributor franchisees, multi-line representatives and more all stood united in D.C. We were organized by state, with many groups consisting of companies in direct competition with one another. Along with some suppliers and distributors, I was on the Pennsylvania team representing Promo Marketing next to ASI’s own senior vice president and senior counselor, Chuck Machion. No one was concerned about business rivalries. We were all there to do the same job.

PPAI_LEAD - PM 6-27-16

Left to Right: Kyle A. Richardson; Bruce Korn, CAS, president of Zakback Inc.; U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA); Larry Whitney, director of global compliance for Polyconcept North America.

What most stood out, however, was seeing that what we’re doing works. In several meetings, staffers greeted members of our team by name, recalling them from last year’s event. In other meetings, representatives mentioned receiving emails from suppliers and distributors as part of Promotional Products Work! Week. One staff member we met with took notes on the PPAI L.E.A.D. notebook he received in 2015. If you think events like this don’t have an impact, you’d be surprised.

You also may be surprised to learn that every D.C. staffer looks like they’re 17. Don’t let “House of Cards” fool you: Everyone in the Capitol is too young to drink.

I want to thank PPAI for inviting me along this year, as well as all the members of my team—Chuck, Bruce Korn of Zakpack Inc., George Jackson of George Jackson Promotions, Larry Whitney of Polyconcept North America and Norm Hullinger of alphabroder.

It’s said you should lead, follow or get out of the way. The promotional products industry has made it clear which path it will take.

~~~~

Kyle Richardson

Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.

 

Participate. Elevate. Celebrate.

PPW!Work_Logo2016

Next week is Promotional Products Work! Week, and together we will build awareness and increase exposure to grow and protect our industry. Everyone has a role to play and each action, no matter how small, will make a big difference at the local, state and national level. You can help by raising awareness in your own company, community and among your current and future customers!

Many of you already have the whole week planned out, but if you haven’t yet started, it’s not too late! Here are a few things you can do—easily, quickly and inexpensively—to promote your business and strengthen our industry right now!

Take a few minutes to reach out. We’ve made it simple and easy.

Initiate. Inform. Influence.

  • Download the PPW! Week guides and toolkits.

    PPWW Persona Quad Ad Set

    Download & add your logo to the #PPWWeek co-op campaign!

  • Use the banners, infographics, video and ads to post to your website and social media pages, and embed in emails. Personalize them by adding your logo.
  • Add the Promotional Products Work! twibbon to your social profile pic.
  • Round up self-promos and samples and donate them to a nonprofit in your community.
  • Advocate for the industry by participating in the PPAI Legislative Education and Action Day Virtual Fly-In.
  • Reach out and thank your customers.
  • Take lots of photos and share them using the hashtag #PPWWeek.
PPW Twibbon FB Ad Set 600x600

Add the #PPWWeek twibbon!

The fourth annual PPW! Week is focused on growing your business by educating the buyers of promotional products—your current and future customers. This international week-long event is focused on raising awareness of the benefits of promotional products among advertisers, marketers and media buyers.

Our goal is to increase our share in the media buy by enabling a deeper understanding of promotional products as an advertising medium among buyers, as well as sharing the benefits of working with certified promotional products professionals.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to this great and growing industry. It is through your individual and cumulative efforts that we succeed—every day.

Paul

For more information or questions, contact PPW! Week program manager, Kim R. Todora at KimT@ppai.org.

PPAI Responds to The Oklahoman’s Report on State Spending on Promotional Products

Oklahoma Take Action: Tell your officials and representatives that you support responsible spending and the effective use of promotional products to promote essential government programs – and urge them to do the same.

Write your representatives now.

The Oklahoman MastheadA few days ago, The Oklahoman editorial board published the article, “In attacking Oklahoma state budget hole, every little bit of savings helps,” on wasteful government spending on promotional products.

PPAI answered the report with a response supporting responsible spending and the effective use of promotional products to promote essential government programs. Thus, allowing readers to consider the facts for themselves.

I encourage you to write your representatives to share how extensive industry research demonstrates that promotional products deliver the highest rate of reach, recall and response making them one of the most effective advertising and marketing media for all advertisers, including federal, state and local governments.

Thank you for your support.

Paul

PPAI Responds to ABC Chicago’s Report on Government Spending on Promotional Products

Take Action: Tell your members of Congress that you support responsible spending and the effective use of promotional products to promote essential government programs – and urge them to do the same. Write your representatives now.

 

Last week, ABC affiliate WLS-TV Channel 7 aired an investigative report, “I-Team Treasure Hunt Turns Up Millions In Taxpayer Funded Trinkets,” on wasteful government spending on promotional products, which targeted a local PPAI member.

PPAI answered the report with a response, which ABC 7 agreed to post on their website, supporting responsible spending and the effective use of promotional products to promote essential government programs. Thus, allowing viewers to consider the facts for themselves.

I encourage you to write your representatives to share how extensive industry research demonstrates that promotional products deliver the highest rate of reach, recall and response making them one of the most effective advertising and marketing media for all advertisers, including federal, state and local governments.

Thank you for your support.

Paul

Inside PPAI’s 2013 North American Leadership Conference & Product Safety Summit | A special message from PPAI Chair, Marc Simon

NALC 2013: Perspectives on the Promotional Products Industry presentation.

NALC 2013: Perspectives on the Promotional Products Industry presentation.

On August 11-15 in Chicago, PPAI hosted two of our most popular and powerful educational opportunities—North American Leadership Conference and Product Safety Summit. Over the course of four-and-a-half days, we were treated to a series of superb speakers who shared countless years of experience on hotly relevant topics from innovation, marketing and the economy to product recalls, FDA regulations and social compliance—to name just a few. For PPAI’s Chair of the Board Marc Simon, it was also a thrill to hold these two exceptional events in his hometown. Below, Marc shares a special message with you.

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Greetings to our valued members!

For those of you who attended PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference (NALC) and/or PPAI’s Product Safety Summit (Summit) in Chicago earlier this month, I want to thank you, on behalf of the PPAI Board of Directors and staff, for your enthusiastic and attentive participation. Based on the comments we have received, it is fair to say that NALC and Summit were enormous successes.

If you were unable to attend either conference, let me tell you what you missed.

First, a few numbers: We had more than 150 participants at NALC and more than 180 participants at Summit. Notably, these were largely different groups of people. More frequently, senior management attended NALC and a combination of senior execs and people responsible for product safety and compliance attended Summit. Approximately 300 people in total participated in various aspects of this great week.

There were two themes to these back-to-back conferences: content and volunteerism. Let me explain.

For both conferences, we recognized that everyone’s most valuable resource is his or her time. We needed to be certain that we used everyone’s time judiciously. Both NALC and Summit participants heard from recognized experts who were impressive and even entertaining.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), was NALC’s first speaker. Gary made the point that innovation is critical for an industry, for a company, indeed for an individual, to survive and prosper. He observed that innovation is cultural and spoke of the many ways in which the culture and diversity of the United States breeds innovation. He contrasted that with other cultures, including China. It was ironic that the CEO of CEA, the bastion of technology—which is often blamed for limiting human interaction—spoke of the importance of relationships, face-to-face experiences and five-sense experiences to build trust and confidence, which are the essential ingredients of innovation. Gary’s presentation gave reason for encouragement—innovation is cultural (our culture), and relationships remain vitally important.

Next, Northwestern University Professor Frank Mulhern led us through the evolution of advertising from the presumed monolithic, homogenous state in which we know what consumers want and where consumers are captive to where we are today and where we are headed. Brands are shifting from products and services to people and lifestyles. Content marketing is everything, and “earned” media is growing rapidly. Marketing is becoming organized by interests, and people connect based on shared interests. As a result, marketing is becoming more analytical and targeted. (And therein lies the reason our industry will continue to grow. What can be more targeted and analytically based than our solutions?) Also, gamification is growing in popular appeal, another trend that favors our industry.

Our most knowledgeable, interesting and entertaining NALC speaker highlighted Tuesday’s lineup. Austan Goolsbee was previously chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors and is now a University of Chicago professor. He made three key points: 1. The economy is in for another 12 to 24 months of sluggishness, 2. The government is not going to help, and 3. Pent-up demand, the most productive work force in the world and our culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism will eventually push through all the clutter to lead us to new economic heights. I could not possibly do justice to the wit, humor and delivery style Goolsbee displayed, but we all laughed at the unintended consequences of lasagna and plumbing bombs (ask someone who attended for the details) as well as the observation that no one ever died jumping out of a basement window. Goolsbee spoke for an hour and took questions for another half hour. The universal comment we all heard was, “I could have listened to him all day.”

Product Safety Summit speakers included a panel of brand-integrity officers representing three of the world’s most valuable brands—The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and John Deere— speaking to the challenges and goals they face every day. Directors from the Consumer Products Division of Underwriters Laboratories gave a primer in the product safety requirements our industry faces.

It was a huge honor to have Neal Cohen, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Small Business Ombudsman, as one of Summit’s keynote speakers. He spoke to the special considerations that exist in our laws and regulations to account for the practical limitations of small businesses. John Fuson, most recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s associate general counsel for major enforcement actions, was fascinating as spoke of the practical requirements to which our industry’s food and drug niche (including hand sanitizers, for instance) is subject. Another government speaker, Jim Joholske, the assistant executive director of the Office of Import Surveillance for the CPSC, gave insights into new laws and regulations that our people now encounter every day. His interest in helping our industry was obvious—especially as he told listeners that if they couldn’t resolve an import issue, they were welcome to reach out to him for help.

The big hit of the outside expert Summit speakers was Katherine Cahill, an independent consultant. She spoke about the responsibilities that arise when product recalls are indicated. Her session, scheduled for 90 minutes, ran over by a full hour, as no one was willing to leave the room. She was filled with practical advice and everyone got a lot from her session.

Now for the second theme: volunteerism. None of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts and painstaking attention to detail from several PPAI members who volunteered their time to make this event so valuable for all of us—and each of these people has a full-time, demanding job outside of PPAI volunteer responsibilities.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Gene Geiger, CEO of Geiger, and to Rick Brenner, CEO of Prime Resources, for their passion and commitment in personally attending to each and every detail of the Product Safety Summit. I also want to recognize CJ Schmidt of Hit Promotional Products and Marc Held of Bodek and Rhodes for their exceptional work as co-leaders of the NALC Work Group. Jonathan Isaacson, CEO of Gemline, had to have spent 100 hours doing the research, analyzing the results and putting together his highly informative NALC presentation on trends that are apparent on the supplier side of our industry. NALC presentations by Larry Cohen, CEO of Axis Promotions, on how suppliers can work more effectively with distributors and by Jeff Meyer, CEO of Certified Marketing Consultants, on mergers and acquisitions were just two of the many sessions that were both interesting and valuable. Thank you also to those peers who shared their valuable insights on a series of panels that explored relevant topics throughout both conferences. A final and personal thank-you goes to the dozen large distributor and supplier companies that quietly sponsored Austan Goolsbee’s appearance.

I was very proud to have my hometown show so well to all of our participants. Next August (August 10-12, 2014, and August 13-14, 2014, respectively), we are going to Boston, and the prospect of interacting with professors from Harvard and MIT is at least as exciting. So please join us!

Marc Simon
PPAI Chair of the Board

For session summaries, photos and a video Q&A with Austan Goolsbee, visit http://ppblive.tumblr.com.

 

 

Guest Blog: George Jackson, Legislative Chair of TRASA, shares his L.E.A.D. experience.

PA Group with Rep Tim Murphy

L.E.A.D., Legislative Education Action Day, sponsored by PPAI, is a unique experience. In April, I was able to attend my fourth L.E.A.D. experience. Each year they are similar, yet different. Attending meetings on the “Hill” in Washington, D.C. with your Member Of Congress and/or their staff is an exciting and challenging event.

This year I was again in charge of Team PA (Pennsylvania), and we had 13 scheduled meetings and 10 drop-in meetings. One of the challenges that you face each year is keeping the MOC and their staff in your corner. We have met with several MOCs and staff members from year to year and they remember us. This is what we strive for, them remembering who we are and what we do as well as their stating to us that they will keep on the lookout for legislation that could have a negative effect on the promotional products industry; a small yet meaningful victory for L.E.A.D.

Take the independent contractor issue as an example. Four years ago, very few if anyone even knew what we were referring to. We continue to discuss this issue each year we attend L.E.A.D. This year, after four trips, we came away with both MOCs and staff not only knowing the details of the issue, but now we are able to depend on their support on this issue if it comes up in either chamber. They now understand more about the PP Industry, the large number of small businesses that are it’s makeup and the impact that could result. Another small victory for PPAI.

This year we were invited to a senator’s AM coffee. The senator and staff are there to meet and greet with you and discuss briefly, issues that affect your industry. It is a way for the senator and his staff to meet with many people in a short period of time. We were again able to garner support on industry issues from this meeting.

L.E.A.D. is an event that strengthens your resolve towards the leaders in Washington, D.C. and proves that a small group of individuals can band together, meet with a MOC or staff from almost all 50 states and accomplish something important. We are a small group, which needs to grow, yet a mighty one. The PPI is an $18 billion industry that is slowly making inroads at both the federal and state government levels to ensure the protection of our members.

PPAI supports all of the Regional Associations’ Legislative Committees across the USA and brings them together with other volunteers at L.E.A.D. Even with this we need your help and support. Plan to join PPAI at L.E.A.D. in 2014. Attend an education class at Expo, Expo East, or at your local regional trade show, on government relations, legislative and/ or consumer product safety. This is your industry and it needs your help and support to keep it viable and productive.

Thank you,
George Jackson
Legislative Chairman, TRASA

PPAI’s Washington Report

Through our legislative contacts and lobbyists, PPAI has access to information, insight and analysis that you won’t see published anywhere else. Information that will help you better understand how what happens in D.C. can affect your business and employees at home—information that will help you become more aware and better prepared to advocate for your business, profession and industry.

This edition of the report highlights the very recent work of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the Dodd-Frank Reform’s conflict-minerals provision and the possible impact of the shortened Congressional session on several expiring tax provisions.

I hope you find this information beneficial to your business.

CONFLICT MINERALS
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a final rule providing guidance on what had become a very confusing issue—tracking “conflict minerals.” It started when Congress passed and the President signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act in 2010. Public Law 111-203 includes a provision that will require some businesses already required to file reports to the SEC under other laws (the SEC calls them “issuers”) to disclose the source of certain conflict minerals. According to the Conference Report issued by Congress, the provision of the new law “requires disclosure to the SEC by all persons otherwise required to file with the SEC for whom minerals originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries are necessary to the functionality or production of a product manufactured by such person. Such a public disclosure report by the person must describe the measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of such materials, the products manufactured, and other matters; requires an independent audit of the report.” The term “conflict mineral” means columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, gold, wolframite, or their derivatives; or any other mineral or its derivatives determined by the Secretary of State to be financing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country.

Most businesses in the promotional products industry do not file reports with the SEC and therefore do not have a direct conflict mineral reporting requirement under the law. The earlier confusion about this law resulted from the fact that businesses that do file reports with the SEC (some of our end buyers) were asking all of their suppliers and vendors to supply information about the vendors and suppliers’ products. The SEC has confirmed the law applies only to the products that the company required to file SEC reports manufactures or contracts to have manufactured for them. In other words, the reporting and supply chain tracking is confined to their (the end buyer) products only, not your products. This is not like the situation created by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that created a potential liability for the end buyer for your products.

 SHORT SEMESTER
Congress returns after Labor Day and will attempt to get out of town by mid-October. Unless you have been vacationing in Antarctica, you probably are already acutely aware that the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, as is one-third of the Senate. Their desire to campaign drives their interest in a short session of Congress before the November elections.

The House will only be in session for 13 days before the congressional elections–not a lot of time to turn the car around before we come to the fiscal cliff you have heard about. All kinds of tax relief provisions expire at the end of the year (some have already!), automatic across-the-board-spending cuts in the federal budget take effect in January, and we will probably bump up against our federal debt ceiling again. Only the most optimistic fans of Congress still think they will do something before the election. Most observers have long been convinced we will hear the quacking call of a lame duck session after the election. As a result, the 13 workings days are probably 12 more than they will need unless they want to get serious about the fiscal cliff. There is certainly plenty of evidence that we would be better off if they got serious sooner than later. The Congressional Budget Office recently told Congress: “In CBO’s judgment, the sharp increases in federal taxes and reductions in federal spending that, under current law, are scheduled to begin in calendar year 2013 are likely to interrupt the recent economic progress, resulting in what would probably be considered a recession.” If they wanted to deal with tax issues, there is a short list of important items. The following are some we have identified.

The latest extension of the temporary increases in the income levels for which the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is waived expired at the end of 2011, so technically many of us are already at risk. This “rolling” extension is referred to as the AMT “patch.” The law provided that the individual AMT exemption amounts for taxable years beginning in 2011 were $74,450, in the case of married couples filing a joint return and surviving spouses and $48,450 in the case of individuals. In 2012, the exemption amounts have reverted to $45,000 for married couples filing jointly and $33,750 for individuals.

The top individual marginal income tax rate has been sitting at the reduced rate of 35 percent for the past decade-plus. It will return to its pre-2001 level of 39.6 percent in 2013.

For the past decade, the maximum rate of tax on net capital gain of a non-corporate taxpayer has been 15 percent. In addition, any net capital gain which otherwise would have been taxed at a 10 or 15 percent rate generally has been taxed at a zero-percent rate. For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012, generally the rates on net capital gain will be 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

For the past decade, dividends received by a noncorporate shareholder from domestic corporations and qualified foreign corporations generally have been taxed at the same rates that apply to net capital gain. Thus, dividends received by an individual, estate, or trust have been taxed at rates of zero and 15 percent. For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012, dividends received by a non-corporate shareholder will be taxed at the same rates as ordinary income.

The estate tax exemption is currently $5 million per person and $10 million per couple and the top estate tax rate is 35 percent. The exemption amount is indexed beginning in 2012 and is $5,120,000. Under prior law, couples had to do complicated estate planning to claim their entire exemption. A recent temporary change allows the executor of a deceased spouse’s estate to transfer any unused exemption to the surviving spouse without such planning, effective for estates of decedents dying after December 31, 2010. The system will revert to pre-2001 status at the end of 2012. This means we are going back to a single graduated rate schedule with a top rate of 55 percent and a single effective exemption amount of $1 million.

The depreciation bonus sits at 50 percent for most assets acquired in 2012. It disappears at the end of 2012. The adjusted direct expensing allowance for capital assets acquired in 2012 is $139,000 and the phase-out cap on purchases for the year is $560,000. At the beginning of 2013, the amounts revert to pre-2003 levels of $25,000 and $200,000 without inflation indexing.

Earlier this year, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (MCTRJCA). It extended the temporary two-percentage-point payroll tax “holiday” for employees (and to the same extent, to the self-employed) through the end of 2012.

Beyond The Headlines: PPAI’s Washington Report Gives You The Inside Scoop

Postal service reform and small business tax cut bills have made national headlines lately. I’m glad to offer PPAI members an in-depth look into these issues and how they could impact your business.  

I hope you enjoy this month’s inside-look into the issues that make headlines—PPAI’s Washington Report:

HELP FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE
As predicted last month, the Senate returned to the topic of United States Postal Service (USPS) reform and the Senate has passed S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Among other things, the bill would give the Postmaster General access to money the USPS has overpaid into one of its pension funds (Federal Employees Retirement System, or FERS) and use it to offer buyouts or retirement incentives to reduce the active postal workforce by 100,000 or more employees over the next several years.

The bill would also allow the USPS to offer non-postal products or services if the PRC has determined that the products and services: 1) make use of USPS’s processing, transportation, delivery, retail network, or technology; 2) are consistent with the public interest and a demonstrated demand for the USPS to offer them; 3) do not create unfair competition with the private sector; and 4) have the potential to improve the USPS’s financial condition.

The reason the Senate had to take two runs at passage was that there were objections to the possibility of cutting back delivery services and closing some post offices and processing facilities. The Senate-passed version includes compromises on those issues. The House will now consider its own version, H.R. 2309, and it does not include the compromises. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) made the following statement upon the passage of the Senate bill: “While the Postal Service is actually trying to shutter some facilities it does not need, the Senate bill forces the Postal Service to keep over one hundred excess postal facilities open at a cost of $900 million per year. Worst of all, the Senate bill does not stop the financial collapse of USPS, but only delays it for two years, at best, when reforms will only be more painful. The Senate’s approach is wholly unacceptable.”

The House bill would give the USPS the option of eliminating Saturday delivery six months after the enactment of the legislation. It would create a two-year task force, directed to recommend a plan to consolidate redundant post offices and other facilities. To stop implementation, Congress would have to pass a joint resolution disapproving the recommendations of task force.

We will see whether the House can withstand the constituent pressure on the closure and delivery issues.

DON’T HANG THAT POSTER YET
Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided that you should post a poster informing your employees that of their workplace rights. The effective date was to be April 30th.

While the employer community expressed concern from the moment the proposal surfaced, it took a couple of court decisions for the NLRB to take notice.

The NLRB has suffered a series of setbacks in the court in cases challenging its authority to issue the poster requirement. As a result, the NLRB has announced:

“In light of conflicting decisions at the district court level, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily enjoined the NLRB’s rule requiring the posting of employee rights, which had been scheduled to take effect on April 30, 2012.

“In view of the DC Circuit’s order, and in light of the strong interest in the uniform implementation and administration of agency rules, regional offices will not implement the rule pending the resolution of the issues before the court.”

HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS BILL
The House passed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) H.R. 9, the Small Business Tax Cut Act that would allow profitable small businesses to reduce their taxable income by up to 20 percent for one year. A small business is one with less than 500 full time employee equivalents for the purpose of the bill. The reduction is limited to not more than 50 percent of wages paid in the year.

SENATE SMALL BUSINESS BILL
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has his own ideas about a small business bill and says he will have the full Senate consider it soon.

S. 2237, the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act would provide a one-time tax credit of up to ten percent of the incremental increase in wages paid by an employer in 2012 over 2011 wages. The incremental increase in the amount of wages eligible for the credit is capped at $5 million. His bill would also extend the temporary 100 percent depreciation bonus through 2012.  At the end of 2011, the temporary bonus dropped to 50 percent and it will expire at the end of the year.

It is hard to imagine the House considering the Senate bill (that is, if the Senate even passes the bill—it is not clear the Majority Leader can get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster) or vice versa so, at the end of the day, this is an exercise in election year politics.

JUST IN CASE
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has approved H.R. 4067, a moratorium on “Midnight Rules,” introduced by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI). The bill would prohibit federal agencies from proposing or finalizing major “midnight rules” during an outgoing President’s lame-duck period. Under the bill, major rules are those that have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets.

We doubt the Senate majority will be inclined to embrace legislation that just happens to deal with the possibility of a lame duck president.

A Love Letter

It goes without saying that I am a big fan of PPAI.  I get excited to come to work each day and I fully embrace my role at the industry’s international nonprofit trade association.  Each day, the PPAI staff works hard to grow the viability, visibility, credibility and community of the promotional products industry, our member companies and hundreds of thousands of industry practitioners.

The fact that PPAI owns and produces The PPAI Expo – our industry’s largest, longest running and most successful tradeshow – is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that it, along with revenue generated through membership dues and media sales, provides the funding to do all the non-revenue generating activities the association must provide.  Activities such as awards, public affairs, government relations, product safety, research, professional development, regional support, strategic partnerships and buyer outreach – while all integral to building the viability, visibility, credibility and community of our industry – are not in themselves self-sustaining.

It is a curse, only in a matter of speaking, because The PPAI Expo is so dominant, some industry practitioners think it’s all we do.  But, it is truly the sum of the parts that sustain us and produce the growth we’ve enjoyed over the past 109 years.

I am pleased to share the attached “love letter” with you. It speaks specifically to PPAI’s value to the industry and why we’re so much more than a tradeshow.

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