MICHIGAN, OKLAHOMA SAY NO TO AD TAXES

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Here is a rundown on marketing-related issues at the state and local level, as gathered by the American Advertising Federation.

MICHIGAN

Despite its $6 billion budget gap, the Michigan Legislature recently passed an education finance bill free of ad taxes. State lawmakers began seeking alternative funding sources last summer after voting to eliminate all property taxes for schools. AAF Michigan Legislative Chair Ron Stone, chairman-ceo of Stone, August & Baker Communications, Troy, reports advertising and service taxes were discussed as possible revenue raisers, but no action was taken. He also said the state Treasury Department is discussing the possibility of invoking a rule to tax services including print ing and design production. Michigan law allows such rules to be passed by the department without a legislative vote.

In March, voters will be asked to approve a proposal lowering the state's income tax rate from 4.6% to 4.45%. The initiative also proposes a variety of tax increases, including a 2 percentage point jump (4% to 6%) in the sales and use tax rate. Michigan's constitution requires voter approval for any sales tax increase. If the proposal is rejected, other tax increases will take effect automatically. Income tax rates will go to 6% and the single business tax will increase from 2.35% to 2.75%.

OKLAHOMA

State Sen. Louis Long (D., Glenpool) recently dropped his proposal to extend Oklahoma's 4.5% sales tax to include advertising. Sen. Long origi nally called for a service tax, but later omitted advertising from the bill, citing the outcome of Florida's disastrous 1987 ad tax-which was re pealed after only 6 months-as an influence on his decision.

All tax increases in Oklahoma require voter approval. The service tax proposal will appear on the November ballot if it passes the Legislature.

VERMONT

Twin bills prohibiting the use of cartoon characters in ads for "addictive substances" were recently introduced by state Rep. Karen Kitzmiller (D., Washington) and state Sen. Helen Riehle (R., Chittenden). The proposals, aimed at truthful tobacco advertising, mirror legislation rejected in 1993 by the California Legislature. To date, no action is scheduled on either bill.

MINNESOTA

Local lawmakers in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center have in definitely tabled an ordinance that would limit point-of-purchase adver tising and promotions for tobacco products to the tombstone format. Un der the ordinance, tobacco print ads would likely have been restricted to b&w, text-only messages. AAF Minnesota Legislative Chair Steve Berger son, an attorney in Minneapolis, met with the Brooklyn Center mayor and City Council to oppose the ordinance. He said they agreed to table the pro posal unless neighboring communities decide to develop similar measures.

WASHINGTON

State lawmakers recently introduced legislation banning outdoor adver tising for alcohol, tobacco or firearms near public schools. The bill prohib its outdoor ads (such as outdoor boards or bus shelter ads) from appearing within 1,000 feet of school grounds. AAF's five state advertising federa tions and their 760 members are opposing the legislation with a statewide letter-writing campaign.

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