New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill (S.6285-A/A.9034B) last Friday that would have banned state agencies from disseminating ads to the public for products that relate to the subject matter of the agency — such as GEICO advertisements alongside vehicle registration renewals.
The Professional Insurance Agents of New York State (PIANY), a major independent agents association in the state, this week expressed its disappointment at the governor’s decision.
The group said this practice of state agencies disseminating ads — such as ads for national direct writers in Department of Motor Vehicles mailings — harms independent agencies.
Gov. Cuomo said he would order state agencies to add a disclaimer in any mailings with advertisements that the state does not promote or endorse any particular products or services. But PIANY says that’s not enough.
“Despite successfully passing both houses of the state Legislature in two consecutive sessions, Gov. Cuomo, for the second time, vetoed a bill (S.6285-A/A.9034B) designed to prohibit state agencies from disseminating ads to the public for products or services that relate to the subject matter of the state agency, such as GEICO advertisements alongside vehicle registration renewals,” PIANY stated.
“It is PIANY’s position that through this practice, the DMV is tacitly endorsing that people buy compulsory automobile insurance from a particular source, and by refusing to prohibit it, Gov. Cuomo sends the message that this is a perfectly acceptable practice.”
For small businesses in New York trying to compete with large national direct writers, the practice is infuriating, the agents group said. “The presence of a disclaimer, as indicated in the veto message, will do little if anything to address the core issue. Accordingly, PIANY will continue working on behalf of its members and all professional, independent insurance agents in New York to right this wrong.”
But for the New York state government, adding relevant ads to state agencies’ mailings can help generate much-needed revenues.
Gov. Cuomo stated in a letter explaining his decision that “The bill, as written, may prevent agencies from engaging in valuable public-private partnership opportunities.”
“As the state is trying to find ways to reduce the cost of the government, we need to encourage agencies to use all available tools to maximize savings. Indeed, if enacted, this bill could have the unintended consequence of increasing costs to the state of engaging in public outreach,” Gov. Cuomo said.
“This risk of any implied endorsement of a particular product or service can easily be mitigated with a disclaimer that the stat agency is not promoting or endorsing the product or service, and I will direct state agencies to include such a disclaimer on any mailings to the public that include advertisements relating to the mission of the agency,” Gov. Cuomo noted. “This bill is disapproved.”
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