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Senate rejects bill allowing residents to opt out of phone books

June 4, 2010 | 11:07 am
Showing that one man’s nuisance is another man’s necessity, state lawmakers rejected a proposal Thursday that would have allowed Californians to opt out of receiving phone books delivered to their homes.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) said his SB 920 addresses a wasteful nuisance. He said phone-book publishers sell advertising based on books distributed even though many people toss the phonebooks in the trash.

"The dirty little secret is those telephone books sit in peoples doorways, and they are summarily taken and dumped in the garbage cans," Yee said.

However, Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) objected to the measure saying it would hurt the economy. "Small business relies heavily on these yellow pages and these white pages," Strickland said. "They are all in opposition to this because it’s part of [their] livelihood."

He said the legislation is being pushed by Internet phone directory firms who are competitors of the phone book publishers. Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) disputed the argument that the bill is necessary to address significant waste. He said he periodically throws away large stacks of newspapers and junk mail. "It’s just one more item. It’s not a big deal," Wyland said.

Yee blamed lobbying by telecommunications giant AT&T for the demise of his bill, which failed on a 12-18 vote.

-- Patrick McGreevy