California Newspapers Hire Lobbyist

Article excerpt

California newspapers hire lobbyist

Four large news organizations attempt to fight impending legislation that would impose new taxes on newspapers

Four of California's largest newspaper organizations have hired a high-powered Sacramento lobbyist to fight impending legislation that would impose new taxes on newspapers and a disposal fee on newsprint purchases.

Spokesmen for two of the organizations emphasized that the hiring of lobbyist George Steffes is not an attempt to circumvent or detach themselves from the lobbying efforts of the California Newspaper Publishers Association against the bills.

The four companies are the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, McClatchy Newspapers, which publishes the Sacramento Bee and two other Bee papers, and Copley Newspapers Inc., publisher of the San Diego Union and The Tribune.

"These bills are crucial to us and newspapers in the rest of the United States," Phelps Dewey, assistant publisher of the Chronicle, told E&P. "Steffes has a lot of firepower. The issues are too big and too important for one man to handle."

He was referring to Michael B. Dorais, CNPA's longtime lobbyist.

Sacramento Bee president Frank R.J. Whittaker credited Dorais with doing a "wonderful job" in Sacramento but noted that he must deal with a variety of legislation affecting newspapers while Steffes will concentrate on the two causing most concern to his four employers.

"We welcome the assistance of these member newspapers in helping the Legislature understand the disastrous effects these proposals would have on our industry," said CNPA executive director Jack Bates.

One proposal, a Senate bill, would remove the current sales tax exemption from newspapers, periodicals, snack foods and candy. It already has been approved by the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

The second lobbying target is a recommendation made to the Legislature by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) for a newsprint levy of $90 per metric ton as an advance disposal fee. One assemblyman has indicated he will author legislation for the fee. …

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