Monday, July 11, 2011

Roach Leads The Way On Newspaper Advertising

The committee on Senate policy is meeting soon to determine if my using newspaper advertising will continue to be allowed. Rep. Chris Hurst liked what I was doing so much that he followed suit.

Most legislators currently use their communication budgets on newsletters that are sent only to registered voters (good voters at that). My choice was to use newspapers and reach everyone, even non voters. Here is how the press reported it.

Politicians turning to newspaper ads
ALTERNATIVE: Newspaper ads better inform district during time of budget cuts; limitations pose problems


Last updated: July 11th, 2011 03:12 AM (PDT)

Two state lawmakers have found a novel way to spend the public money they receive for keeping their constituents up to date: Advertisements in local newspapers.

The cheaper alternative to mailing newsletters to voters is likely to catch on in a time of budget cuts, predicts Democratic Rep. Chris Hurst. He followed a fellow 31st District lawmaker, Republican Sen. Pam Roach, in buying ad space instead of postage.

It’s something city governments and school districts already do, said Hurst, of Enumclaw.

“We’re trying to communicate with people in as cost-effective a way as possible,” he said. “There are a whole ton of members that are considering it.”

Roach, of Auburn, published at least six ads in the first six months of this year using a communications budget of a little more than $8,000, which she said wouldn’t have covered even a single newsletter mailing.

But there are limits that may make it hard for others to follow.

Lawmakers who follow the advice of House or Senate administration will find the House restricts where the newspaper ads can circulate. In the Senate, a committee of leaders is considering what should be allowed.

The Facilities and Operations Committee could call for ads to be reviewed by Senate administration and published only in papers that stick to a single Senate district. That’s what the House does, which prevents the ads from appearing in larger papers such as The News Tribune.

“You’re supposed to be directing your expenditures at your constituents,” said Sen. Karen Fraser, the Thurston County Democrat who chairs the committee.

“It’s frankly to keep the peace,” House counsel Tim Sekerak explained. “If one member starts mailing partisan material into someone else’s district, we’re going to have a little border war break out.”

An exception is made if House members in the neighboring district give permission, Sekerak said.

Roach’s ads ran in three Sound Publishing weekly papers that are distributed free to homes: The Bonney Lake & Sumner Courier-Herald, the Enumclaw Courier-Herald and the Auburn Reporter.

The reach of the Auburn paper crosses political boundaries, including parts of as many as four legislative districts. Roach said that should be allowed, just as lawmakers are allowed to create radio and online news releases that can reach anyone.

“Get over it. We communicate freely and openly with every other medium. Every one of them bleed into different districts,” Roach said.

Hurst so far has run two ads in two papers: The Bonney Lake & Sumner Courier-Herald and the Enumclaw Courier-Herald.

Lawmakers are talking to the people back home in new and less expensive ways, such as inviting voters to dial in to telephone conferences.

It’s partly due to budget cuts. The 98 House members get an average of less than $20,000 for their official publications this term, less than half as much as in the 2007 term.

The Senate suspended publication spending last year before restoring more than one-third of the original $24,000 that each of its 49 members was to receive for the year. The Senate’s operations committee has yet to decide how much to spend this year.

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