LPA members got some good news last Wednesday when it was announced that the International Trade Commission had voted to not impose permanent tariffs on North American newsprint.
“The paper markets serving community newspapers can soon move back to market pricing without the heavy hand of government imposing taxes upon the primary suppliers of newsprint,” said National Newspaper Association President Susan Rowell, publisher of the Lancaster (SC) News.
In recent weeks, 20+ representatives of LPA-member newspapers met with five of Louisiana’s representatives in Congress, and our two U.S. senators, to talk about the problems newsprint tariffs have caused newspapers in our state and around the country and asking for their support to reduce or eliminate those tariffs.
Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy both expressed support for the newspapers’ position and later signed on as co-sponsors of the Print Act following their meeting with LPA members.
The Print Act was supported by newspapers as part of the effort to get relief from these tariffs.
Rep. Cedric Richmond expressed support of newspapers’ position and said he’d consider co-sponsoring the Print Act.
And other representatives (Garrett Graves, Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson and Ralph Abraham) each had a meeting with LPA members and were reportedly receptive to the message our newspaper representatives presented about how serious this issue is for our industry.
Rep. Steve Scalise had scheduled a meeting with still another group from LPA in the next few weeks, though the tariff issue is now hopefully moot.
LPA President Renette Hall had urged LPA to lobby our congressmen while they were home during the August recess, and LPA members responded.
In addition to those who were in on the various meetings with members of our congressional delegation, still other members responded to LPA’s request you email or call their offices to ask for their support.
I am particularly appreciative of the members who not only made a call or sent an email to support LPA’s effort on this, but who took the time to confirm to they did so, and to share feedback they received.
This is a great example of the strength and effectiveness of LPA when the organization and the membership work together on an area of common concern.
LPA recently sent an updated guide for newspapers related to how Louisiana sales taxes should be paid in several scenarios common to our operations. The update was needed following numerous changes approved at the relative last minute in the most recent legislative session, and which took effect July 1.
It took a few weeks to get a meeting with Dept. of Revenue officials to confirm the appropriate tax rates for the various circumstances with which most LPA members might be involved.
As of my writing this, LPA is attempting to get consideration from DOR about the position it expressed for taxes on papers in newspaper owned & operated vending boxes (news racks).
DOR said it wanted to collect use tax on every paper put into a news rack, whether that paper was sold, stolen or ended up as a return.
So, if a newspaper put 30 papers into a news rack and only sold five, while there were 10 returns and 15 unaccounted for/stolen, DOR wanted to get paid use tax on the 30 papers that went into the box initially.
LPA argued how it was common to have papers stolen from news racks, how not every paper put into a rack was purchased and how the shelf-life of a newspaper is much shorter than other products put into a vending machine and asked for some consideration on this issue.
We have been told DOR is reviewing this issue again and are hopeful for a more favorable ruling. If not will seek a meeting to push for a modification in this area.
I hope you saw LPA’s emails about a letter from CivicSource alleging that official public journal newspapers may have been overcharging for notices placed by CivicSource on behalf of local government bodies. And then hopefully you saw the response from LPA, approved by the board and written by Scott Sternberg, LPA’s general counsel, that took a strong position on behalf of LPA member publications that we believed most newspapers were following the law properly and billing for these notices correctly.
CivicSource’s letters to local publishers were copied to local governments served in those communities. LPA asked Sternberg to be sure to share LPA’s response letter with LMA and the Police Jury Association and the association for sheriffs and school boards. The board thought it important we make clear to local government officials that our member newspapers take seriously their responsibilities regarding public notices, and that we believed most all are complying with state law related to charges for these notices and handling them responsibly.
We are asking local publishers or general managers who received a CivicSource letter to share a copy of LPA’s letter with your local city government, parish government, school board and sheriff’s department to make sure they get the word that we don’t think newspapers are
improperly handling these notices, lest they have seen the CivicSource letter and assume what it alleged was correct.
We know you are busy, but we know, and you know it’s important to work to protect the credibility of our industry and individual operations.
Please share this with your local officials, and alert LPA to any pushback you might get.
At its August board meeting, the board asked the contest committee to review the various competition categories, to see if there were areas of your work where excellence should be recognized and justifying adding another competition category to those offered in LPA’s Better Newspaper Awards competition, or to recommend if there were competition categories that needed to be modified or eliminated.
If you want to see LPA add a competition category back to its contest, or the rules or guidelines for an existing one modified, or you think a competition category is no longer relevant and needs to be eliminated, email me so I can make sure your thoughts get shared with the committee during its review.
A friend who was a long-time newspaper publisher used to tease about a paper winning “Honorable Mention / Low Ink Rub” as an example of newspaper contest competitions that offered too many categories.
LPA wants to find the right balance between too few, and too many. If you have thoughts, share them with me ASAP.
Will Chapman is the executive director of LPA. He worked in the newspaper industry, at various times in most every aspect of the business. He’s a past president of LPA following his father and grandfather who also held that office. Email him at email@example.com, or call him at 225-344-9309 (ext 108).