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Relating to certain deceptive advertising of legal services; imposing civil penalties.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 1189 would prevent an advertisement for legal services from presenting itself as a "medical alert," "health alert," "consumer alert" or "public service announcement." It would also prohibit the display of the logo of a federal or state government agency in a manner that suggests affiliation with or sponsorship by that agency, or use of the term "recall" when referring to a product that has not been recalled by a government agency.
The advertisement must disclose at the beginning of the advertisement that it is a paid advertisement for legal services; the identity of the sponsor of the advertisement; and the identity of the attorney or law firm that provides legal services. An advertisement for legal services soliciting clients who may allege an injury from a prescription drug approved by the USFDA must include a specific warning to not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting with a physician, and that discontinuing a prescribed medication may result in injury or death.
Texas Action supports SB 1189 because it promotes limited government. The state has a legitimate interest in protecting consumers from deceptive trade practices such as those embodied in this bill.
We recognize that commercial speech is much more limited than regular free speech protections. First, in order for commercial speech to be considered protected speech under the First Amendment, the speech must concern lawful activity, and the speech must not be misleading. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980). Second, the Supreme Court has held that a state may compel commercial speech under certain circumstances without violating the advertiser's First Amendment rights. This may include requiring an advertiser to disclose certain information "as long as disclosure requirements are reasonably related to the State's interest in preventing deception of consumers." Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 471 U.S. 626 (1985).
We believe that this bill properly balances free market principles and limited government principles by providing consumers with adequate, reasonable protections. Therefore, we support SB 1189.