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County lawmaker’s bill requiring transparency in mass texts signed into law

A Riverside County lawmaker’s bill requiring mass text messages sent for political purposes to contain specific language identifying who is sending them will be state law on Jan. 1.

Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes’ AB 201, the Text Message Disclose Act, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday.

“AB 201 … provides California voters with information about who is paying for campaign text messages without burdening the ability to communicate a political message,” said Cervantes, D-Corona. “Voters deserve to know which entities are paying for the campaign media that is being sent to them, and the
reforms provided by AB 201 accomplish that goal. This new law ensures that California continues to lead the way on requiring transparency in political campaigns.”

According to the lawmaker, the act will amplify regulations requiring text message transparency that sunset in January.

Under the new law, any entity sending mass texts in support of or opposition to a candidate or ballot measure will have to include a “paid for by” disclosure embedded in the communication so that recipients are aware of who’s behind the effort.

Cervantes’ office said research provided by backers of AB 201 showed 98 percent of texts are read — most of them within three seconds of being received, while traditional campaign literature does not enjoy that kind of response.

The bill’s supporters included the California Broadcasters Association, California Common Cause and People for the American Way. The California Labor Federation opposed it.

The measure was approved in the Assembly on a vote of 72 to 1, with six abstentions. In the Senate, the vote was 34 to 1, with five abstentions.

KESQ

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