The Virginia House of Delegates is holding a hearing Tuesday on HB 1913, legislation that would ban state agencies from acquiring branded merchandise to promote their services.

The Bill

HB 1913, Virginia Public Procurement Act, prohibits state agencies from entering into any contract for the purchase of goods that are branded with such state agency’s name, logo, insignia or other designation, and are being purchased for the purpose of advertising, marketing or promotion.

  • The bill was introduced earlier this month by Delegate Amanda Batten, who represents Virginia’s 96th district.
  • For the purpose of the bill, “state agency” refers to any authority, board, department, instrumentality, institution, agency, or other unit of state government. It does not include any public institution of higher education or any county, city, or town or any local or regional governmental authority.

Impact Statement

The proposed legislation would impose a ban on branded items which are critical to the government’s ability to raise public awareness of their services. While PPAI understands concerns regarding the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, it would be a mistake for Virginia to pass legislation that eliminates any opportunity for state agencies to use promotional products in a powerful and effective manner.

Promotional products educate, recruit, highlight safety awareness and encourage healthy lifestyle choices. They are also used to promote critical government services, celebrate milestones, sign legislation, and reinforce important messages.

  • Because promotional products are tangible, useful and highly targeted to the audience they reach, 88% of recipients recall the advertiser and the message, delivering the highest rate of reach, recall and return on investment in the advertising industry.
  • On an annual basis, promotional products contribute more than $328 million to the Virginia economy, with 742 companies providing 3,782 jobs.

An impact statement submitted by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources illustrates the effects the bill would have on government agencies’ operations.

  • The DWR expects a reduction in revenue due to the bill as it relies heavily on brand identity and marketing to generate operating funds.
  • Elimination of branded merchandise as a mechanism to promote the agency, its mission and Virginia’s outdoor experiences would have substantial impacts on agency revenue generation – including the ability to match federal and other grants – diverse tourism, partnership and sponsorship opportunities, and economic activity related to outdoor recreation.

Industry Advocacy

PPAI encourages industry members in Virginia to reach out to their state representative and tell them that they support responsible spending and the effective use of promotional products to promote essential government programs and urge them to do the same.

To simplify the process, PPAI has prepared an advocacy letter that industry professionals in Virginia can use to reach out to their legislators. Click here for more information.