A short time ago, while facing yet another election challenge from former NFL tight-end Clint Didier, Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), along with main sponsor Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), began drafting one of the most important pieces of state legislation in the history of print publishing. House Bill 7640 – affectionately known as the Local Journalism Sustainability Act – was introduced with the intention of creating three federal tax credits to benefit local media and provide them with a sustainable future. The bill contained not one, not two, but three tax credits focused on incentivizing readers and businesses, while helping keep local newspapers publishing in their communities.
Here are two facts that support the overwhelming need of this bill: Over a dozen local newspapers have closed since the pandemic, and our monthly advertising revenue has fallen by 60% to last year. Without readers, renewals and advertisers – our yellow brick road is fading.
The first tax credit is up to $250 a year for a subscription to a local newspaper. This would mean your subscription to the Weekly would be covered by the federal government, leaving you roughly $210.01 to spread the love around to other media outlets, even nonprofits.
The second tax credit is a five-year refundable credit for local newspapers to employ and adequately compensate journalists. As journalists, when we get ink in our blood, we dig into the story because we love to connect dots, provide context, and keep communities and readers informed. If you’ve wondered why there are multiple award-winning movies centered around reporters or a newsroom, it’s because journalism is the source of some of our nation’s most compelling stories.
The third tax credit is a five-year non-refundable tax credit to incentivize small businesses to advertise with local media, including newspapers, local radio and television stations. This would allow businesses to grow their business, sell more products and services, positively impact the lives of their customers and support their local newspaper, all the while receiving a tax credit for doing so. Brilliant. It’s a win-win for every community.
I understand the gears of big government have been focused on more important things over the last year, however, our path forward is at another crossroad.
As a reader, here are ways you can to help: Renew your subscription, give a subscription as a gift and call your local representative, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (a co-sponsor on the bill) to urge her to push movement on HB 7640. The bill is currently sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee, which DelBene serves as vice-chair of.
As a business owner, manager or director, take advantage of our Business Membership to grow your customer base and help support your local newspaper.
And before I forget, thank you Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and Rep. Dan Newhouse for introducing this bill and for giving local newspapers a fighting chance. Your commitment is not unnoticed.
- Congresswoman Suzan DelBene represents Washington’s 1st Congressional District and can be reached locally at her Kirkland office at 425-485-0085.
- To renew your subscription, please use the form on page 8 or visit our website Woodinville.com.
- For information on a Business Membership, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.