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BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND

INTER-OFFICE CORRESPONDENCE

TO: All Councilmembers

FROM: John Olszewski, Sr.
Councilman, Seventh District

SUBJECT: Unsolicited Advertising Circulars

DATE: July 31, 2009

As I indicated in my memo of July 10, I asked County Executive Smith to veto Bill 49-09 because
it contained a drafting error. He did so, and I plan to introduce a corrected bill on August 3.

As you know, this bill prohibits:

1. The delivery of an unsolicited advertising circular that does not include a statement and a toll-free
phone number for a person to call to notify the publisher to cease delivery to his address; or

2. The delivery of a circular to an address after the resident has called to ask that delivery be
stopped.

Delivery by the U.S. mail or a private mail delivery service is not affected by the bill.

The bill’s definition of “unsolicited advertising circular” is as follows:

(A) DEFINITIONS. IN THIS TITLE, THE FOLLOWING WORDS HAVE THE MEANINGS INDICATED.
(B) UNSOLICITED ADVERTISING CIRCULAR. “UNSOLICITED ADVERTISING CIRCULAR” MEANS
ANY PRINTED OR WRITTEN CIRCULAR, NOTICE, OR OTHER ITEM THE PREDOMINATE PURPOSE
OF WHICH IS:
(1) TO ADVERTISE ONE OR MORE PRODUCTS, SERVICES, OR OTHER THINGS FOR SALE,
LEASE, OR TRADE;
(2) TO DIRECT ATTENTION TO ONE OR MORE BUSINESSES, COMMODITIES, SERVICES,
EVENTS, OR OTHER ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH A FEE IS CHARGED OR SOLICITED; OR
(3) OTHERWISE TO PROMOTE ACTIVITY OF A BUSINESS OR COMMERCIAL NATURE.

This is the same definition that appeared in Bill 49-09. Clearly, the defined term includes neither
newspapers nor campaign material; only the most strained interpretation could produce such a result. The
Law Office agrees.

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I do not intend to explicitly exempt either newspapers or campaign material from the bill’s
definition. It is not necessary. In fact, the decision to specifically refer to these items caused the problem
with the final version of Bill 49-09.

The Press Association asked for an amendment to Bill 49-09. I felt it was unnecessary but agreed
to do so because I thought it would be a harmless amendment. However, I did not use the amendment
offered by the Association; the effect of that amendment, intended or otherwise, would have been to permit
a newspaper publisher to deliver unsolicited advertising circulars.

Instead, the bill, as amended, referred to a definition of newspapers used in the State Code. That
definition, unfortunately, could be interpreted to exclude free newspapers, thereby subjecting free papers
to the prohibitions of Bill 49-09. That was never my intention, so I asked the Executive to veto the bill.

The bill as now drafted covers only materials that advertise goods, products or services for sale, lease
or trade, or direct attention to services or goods or events that charge a fee, or in which the predominant
purpose is to promote businesses or commercial activity. Newspapers and campaign material do not fit this
definition. The Law Office agrees.

I have also added a provision to the bill that limits its scope to publishers that deliver more than one
circular to a residential address in any six-month period. I did this to address the legitimate concern that,
without such a provision, the bill would apply, for example, to a teenager who has a lawn mowing business
during the summer and wants to advertise his services at the beginning of the mowing season by distributing
a circular to his neighbors.

As to the issue of enforcement, the primary concern is to be able to prove that a call was made to
the distributor to tell him to cease deliveries of these unsolicited circulars. Absent some certainty, PADM
may be reluctant to issue a citation to a distributor. The bill authorizes PADM to adopt regulations to carry
out its provisions. Mr. Kotroco has indicated that his department’s regulations would include a requirement
that an affidavit be filed attesting to the fact that the person had called the toll-free number on the circular
to request that future deliveries cease. With such an affidavit on file, PADM would then feel justified to
issue a citation.

JO:dp
all cc unsolicited advertising circular.wpd

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