Lawmaker plans to kill anti-junk mail bill
DENVER – A proposal to allow Coloradans to bar junk mail from their mailboxes is headed to the shredder.Facing opposition from businesses, unions and postal workers involved in the multibillion dollar direct mailing industry, state Rep. Sara Gagliardi said Tuesday she planned to ask that her bill be killed and that all parties work together after the session ends to try to reach a compromise.”My main concern is jobs. I’m concerned about jobs for postal workers, small businesses and print shops,” said Gagliardi, a nurse and member of the Service Employees International Union.Gagliardi, a freshman Democrat from Arvada, said she introduced the bill because of environmental concerns – because of all the junk mail that ends up in the trash – but also because of how it can be used to help steal people’s identities or promote fraudulent schemes.Her proposal would have allowed people to sign up by phone or on the Web to stop unsolicited mail in much the same way that residents can now sign up for the “no call” list to stop telephone solicitations.U.S. Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro welcomed the news, saying the bill would have hurt a $9.2 billion industry in Colorado which also accounts for 30 percent of the postal service’s operating budget. The industry includes everyone from envelope makers to marketing firms and printers and is used by small neighborhood stores and big retailers, he said.About half of the 12.5 million pieces of mail delivered in Colorado every day are direct mail, he said.”It’s a system that has worked so well. It’s one of the best direct marketing mediums there is,” said DeSarro, who said that less than 5 percent of identity theft is connected to mail.Steve Adams, president of the Colorado AFL-CIO, which represents postal workers, said the bill would have led to layoffs.”I think she had good intentions. I just don’t think she realized what the consequences were,” Adams said.Linda Rubright, a Denver resident who has been working with a national group to promote such legislation, said the bill gave people a choice to stop junk mail, just like they can chose to block certain Web sites or skip over television commercials.Rubright said her husband works in marketing and she doesn’t believe giving people the power to stop junk mail would hurt the economy, since people who don’t want the mail aren’t reading it anyway. She said taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the disposal and recycling of unwanted mail, even if it means hurting the postal service.”The state is here to protect the people. The people aren’t here to protect the state,” said Rubright, who said she still got junk mail after signing up with different agencies to stop it.Rubright said the legislation is being promoted by the Center for the New American Dream, a Maryland-based group which promotes awareness about consumerism and its impact on the environment and society. She said she wrote to Colorado lawmakers to introduce the idea here and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a co-sponsor, passed the idea on to Gagliardi.According to the group’s Web site, similar legislation has been introduced in eight other states – Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas and Washington. Questions were referred to the group’s deputy director, who was traveling, but a telephone message left for her wasn’t immediately returned.The bill’s first hearing is scheduled for Thursday and Gagliardi said that’s when she’ll ask fellow lawmakers to kill it.She said a compromise is possible but she did not know what it would look like.”I think bringing all these groups to the table, I think we could brainstorm,” Gagliardi said.
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