School funding and a whole lot more Featured

10:07am EDT July 22, 2002

Legislation pending at the Statehouse could pave a new marketing avenue for private business, but it’s a path that will have to be tread with caution.

House Bill 48, introduced by Rep. William Schuck (R-Columbus) would permit state agencies, counties, school districts and townships to sell advertising space on or in buildings, vehicles, publications and electronic broadcasts. It would also let these entities accept and distribute items containing commercial advertising as long as the items are provided to the public agency for free.

Imagine the possibilities: immaculately maintained city softball diamonds with signs for Pepsi and Ohio State Sports Medicine in the outfield; school field trips underwritten by Wendy’s; new state vehicle fleets plugging State Farm Insurance and Goodyear Tires.

In theory, such a law could open up many opportunities for cash-strapped school districts, cities and townships. It could also postpone budget increases for certain state agencies—especially since the advertising contracts would be sold to the highest responsive bidders. Of course, that’s also likely to make this an expensive game for businesses to play.

Not everyone would be permitted to submit advertising bids under this proposal, either. No libelous, discriminatory or obscene advertising would be allowed, though the definitions of those terms are left open to interpretation in the bill. Advertising in support or opposition of any political candidate, cause or organization would also be forbidden. Ditto for promoting alcohol, tobacco or any illegal product or service.

Individual state agencies, school districts, counties and townships would be able to adopt additional rules to regulate advertising content and display. Toward that end, the bill authorizes the governor to appoint an advisory council from the private sector to assist state agencies in assessing appropriate opportunities for such advertising. School districts, cities and townships would also be able to form advisory boards to determine what space is for sale and which areas are off-limits.

The bill, assigned to the House’s State Government Committee, makes no mention of naming rights—the increasingly common practice by which some corporations have gotten their names added for a steep fee to the marquees of sports facilities or events. That’s apt to be an issue that surfaces during the bill’s debate.

To offer your opinion on this bill, contact committee Chairman Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) at (614) 466-3760 in Columbus or (419) 599-9863 in his home district.


Pocket-lining limits

With so many candidates gearing up for the fall campaign season, we thought a refresher on campaign contribution limits might be in order. Here are the basics:

• Individual contributions to a statewide candidate, a Senate candidate or a House candidate must not exceed $2,500. Political action committees are bound by the same limits.

• Individual contributions to a state political party may not exceed $15,500 per calendar year. PACs are also generally bound by this limit, but it does not apply to PACs making a contribution to another PAC with which it is affiliated.

• Individual contributions to a PAC cannot exceed $5,000 per calendar year.

• Individual or PAC contributions to a legislative campaign fund or county political party may not exceed $5,000 per calendar year. Again, this limit does not apply to PACs making a contribution to another PAC with which it is affiliated.

If you have further questions about campaign contributions, contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s office at (614) 466-0565 or visit its Website at http://www.state.oh.us/sos/.