News about Public Affairs and Government Relations

NAMM Virtual Advocacy Fly-In Webcast

Now more than ever it’s important to let your representatives in Washington know that every child in America deserves a complete, well-rounded education that includes music and arts. NAMM's 2011 Fly-In Briefing Day live webcast featured prominent political leaders and experts covering the U.S. reauthorization of the national education act as well as Intellectual Property and Counterfeiting and economic forecasts and how they impact small business. You are able to view the entire webcast or just the topics that interest you most.

Below is the agenda.

8:30 a.m. EDT
Welcome Remarks
• Tim Fitzgibbon, Managing Partner, Nelson Mullins, D.C. Office

Overview of Briefing Day and Advocacy Fly-In 2011
• Joe Lamond, President and CEO, NAMM
• Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, NAMM

Intellectual Property and Counterfeiting: Limits, Liabilities, Enforcement
• Chris Finnerty, NMRS-Boston (Bio)
• William Coston, Venable (Bio)
• Q & A: e-mail questions during webcast

Download the PowerPoint Presentation by William Coston

Download the article Business As Usual: Think of the Battle Against Counterfeiting Simply as a Normal Expense by Christopher S. Finnerty and Morgan T. Nickerson.

10:00 a.m. EDT Break
NAMM delegates (@30) depart to “Strumming and Drumming for Music Education” event at U.S. Department of Education; post-event tape will be available

10:15–11:15 a.m. EDT
IP enforcement: “411”
• Moderated by Jim Goldberg (Bio)
• Chris Finnerty (Bio)

Richard Halverson
Chief for Outreach and Training
National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Steven M. Tepp (Bio)
Senior Director
Internet Counterfeiting and Piracy
Global IP Center
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Download the PowerPoint Presentation by Steven Tepp

11:15 – 12 noon
Engaging Elected Officials in IP Enforcement
• Jim D’Addario (Bio), D’Addario Strings, Inc.

12 noon Break

12:25 p.m. EDT
Reauthorization of Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): Are We There Yet?
• Maria Worthen, Majority Staff, US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
• Brad Thomas, House Majority, Ed and Workforce Committee
• Representative from US Department of Education (TBD)

1:30 p.m. EDT Keynote:
Overview of Current National Political Climate and 2012 Outlook
• Introduction by Secretary Dick Riley, Nelson Mullins (Bio)
• Steve Schmidt, Edelman (Bio)

NAMM Members can ask questions during the webcast by sending an e-mail to

Follow Mary Luehrsen on twitter

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Policy Update: Wireless Broadband Changes

Policy Update: 10/5/17 Wireless Broadband: FCC Auction Realigns Use of the Public’s Airwaves

In March 2016, the FCC began an “incentive auction” designed to repurpose the broadcast spectrum for new uses. By making valuable “low-band” airwaves available for wireless broadband, the auction will reduce congestion on wireless networks. Bidding in the auction closed on March 30, 2017, repurposing 84 megahertz of spectrum – 70 megahertz for licensed use and another 14 megahertz for wireless microphones and unlicensed use. For more details, visit the FCC Information Page or the FCC Broadcast Incentive Auction Information Page.

NAMM member companies Sennheiser, Shure and others have been very proactive regarding the issue and offer industry-relevant updates and resources to adapt to upcoming changes in the wireless landscape.

Sennheiser Information Page

Shure Information Page

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Track the ESEA Reauthorization Bill

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President Signs Every Student Succeeds Act

Dec 10, 2015 - President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), effectively reauthorizing ESEA and thus creating a framework to increase access to music and arts education for every student. Specifically, the law provides that music and arts education be included as part of a well-rounded education, an unprecedented step and shift in federal education policy. What this means for states and school districts is increased access to funds (under both Title I and IV) and resources to develop, strengthen and maintain music education in public schools.

Learn more about this exciting new development. 

Track Senate Bill

Dec 8, 2015 - Senate approves Conference Report bill, S. 1177. 

Nov 30, 2015 - Conference Committee releases final bill language for their compromise proposal, Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177). 

Nov 18, 2015 - Senate and House Conferees meet to discuss conference report.

June 16, 2015 - Senates passes Every Child Achieves Act by a margin of 81-17. Bill is expected to head to conference, where negotiations to combine with H.R. 5 will begin. 

June 24, 2015 - Senate schedules floor debate for Every Child Achieves Act. Debate expected during the week of July 7. Music and arts advocate are encouraged to contact their senators with the following message: 


The Senate is expected to debate the Every Child Achieves Act, S. 1177 the week of July 7. As a music and arts education advocate, I urge you to:

  • Support the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, S. 1177
  • Support the language in the bill that provides a definition of core academic subjects, including music and the arts
  • Support moving the process forward- critical that ESEA reauthorization happens this year.

It is time for music and arts to be defined in our nation’s federal education law. Please vote in favor of music and arts by reauthorizing ESEA as amended by the HELP Committee. 

Thank you, 

April 30, 2015 - The HELP Committee marks up Every Child Achieves Act. During the process, over 80 amendments are filed with 29 amendments adopted. 

April 15, 2015 - Video of the markup and links to amendments are made available as well as a statement from Senator Murray, Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee.  

April 10, 2015: The Senate releases a bipartisan ESEA proposal, “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” which retains the core academic subject section from No Child Left Behind that had been eliminated in an earlier version, and adds “music” as a specific core academic subject in addition to the “arts.” The draft bill is now available, with specific language concerning core academic subject designation on page 529. Meanwhile, the Senate HELP Committee and Senator Murray, Ranking Member on the HELP Committee, have released a summary of the bill. 

April 10, 2015: Mark up (a term used to debate, adjust and amend the bill) of the Senate bill to start on Tuesday, April 14; process is live-streamed

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) holds hearings on ESEA reauthorization efforts:

Fixing No Child Left Behind: Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students (2/3/15)
Fixing No Child Left Behind: Supporting Teachers and School Leaders (1/27/15)
Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability (1/21/15)

Track House Bill 

Dec 2, 2015 - House votes to pass the conference report, S. 1177. Bill heads to Senate for approval. 

Nov 30, 2015 - Conference Committee releases final bill language for their compromise proposal, Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177).  

Nov 18, 2015 - House and Senate Conferees meet to discuss conference report

July 8, 2015 - The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, a measure to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The bill passed with 218 votes in favor and 213 votes opposed.  No Democrats supported the bill.   The debate continues this week in the US Senate on their ESEA reauthorization bill  which is undergoing the amendment process.  If the Senate is successful in passing its bill, it assures a conference between the House and Senate to reconcile differences. 

July 8, 2015 - The rule for continued consideration of H.R. 5, is released. It includes 4 additional amendments: 

1. Rokita (R-IN), Grothman (R-WI): Sets the authorization from fiscal year 2016 through 2019. (10 minutes)

2. Walker (R-NC), DeSantis (R-FL):  Adds A-PLUS, which would send funding under NCLB back to states in the form of block grants, and states would then be able to direct that funding to any education purpose under state law. (10 minutes)

3. Salmon (R-AZ): Allows parents to opt their student out of the testing required under this bill and exempts schools from including students that have opted out in the schools’ participation requirements. (10 minutes)

4. Polis (D-CO): Requires states to have college- and career-ready standards and set performance, growth, and graduation rate targets for all student subgroups. Includes performance targets for English language learners and students with disabilities. (10 minutes)

The rule does not allow additional time for debate. Should the rule pass, the House will move to vote on these amendments and final passage of H.R. 5 today. 

July 2, 2015 - The House Committee on Rules schedules a meeting for July 7 to review H.R. 5, debate may start as soon as July 8. 

February 27, 2015 - The House schedules a vote on H.R. 5 but is later postponed. 

February 25, 2015 - The Republican led House Committee on Education and the Workforce released a detailed summary of H.R. 5. The ranking Democratic minority office also releases its report detailing the challenges and problems with H.R. 5. 

February 24, 2015 - The House Rules Committee approves the rule that provides for general debate of H.R. 5, also known as the Student Success Act or the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Reauthorization Act. The rule provides for one hour of general debate on H.R. 5, equally divided between the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. A second rule, providing for the consideration of amendments to H.R. 5, was considered by the Rules Committee.  127 amendments were submitted to the House Rules Committee for consideration.  The Rules Committee is expected to approve approximately 2-3 dozen for consideration when the bill goes to the House Floor. 

February 11, 2015 - The House Committee on Education and the Workforce hold a full committee markup on the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) - legislation designed to replace No Child Left Behind. The committee approves the by bill by a vote of 21 to 16. To view video of the markup, please click here.

February 3, 2015 - Representative John Kline (MN-2) and Todd Rokita (IN-4) introduce legislation designed to replace No Child Left Behind. To read more about this measure, please visit the House Education and the Workforce Committee website

Response from White House 

February 13, 2015 - The White House releases a report detailing state-by-state impact of H.R. 5 and other analysis. 

Background on ESEA

The last reiteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) came in 2001 under the name of “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB). The law aims to bring students to proficient levels in reading and math while also holding schools and states more accountable for results. Among other provisions, NCLB requires annual testing in reading and math for students in 3 through 8 grade and requires states to record and publish “adequately yearly progress” for school receiving Title I funding. Please visit the U.S. Department of Education to learn more about NCLB.


AFTA's ESSA Implementation Progress Webinar Series.  

Contact your Member of Congress

Now is the time to communicate with your Senators and Representative. Below are key message points that you should use when discussing support for music education in a reauthorization of ESEA. To locate your Representatives, click HERE. To locate your Senator, click HERE

  • Congress must maintain the definition of "core academic subjects," including music and the arts, to assure access to federal resources
  • Congress must amend language to clarify to states and local districts that Title I funds can be used to increase accessibility to high quality music education programs for low income and high minority school populations, and Title II funds can be used to strengthen teacher and principal preparation, training, and recruitment to deliver high quality music programs
  • Congress must urge states and local districts to provide learning experiences to students that offer a well-rounded education and prepare them for college and career readiness, including music education
  • Congress must require annual state reporting on student access to music and the arts to address the equity gap
  • Congress must recognize and address disparities in access to high quality, sequential-based music programs among school districts that serve disproportionately large numbers of low-income and minority students, and the critical need for federal resources through Titles I, II, IV and V, and through separately funded programs providing after-school learning and the Arts in Education grant program

Senate HELP Committee Members

Lamar Alexander (TN) (Chairman) Patty Murray (WA) (Ranking Member)
Michael B. Enzi (WY) Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
Richard Burr (NC) Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Johnny Isakson (GA) Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
Rand Paul (KY) Al Franken (MN)
Susan Collins (ME) Michael F. Bennet (CO)
Lisa Murkowski (AK) Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Mark Kirk (IL) Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Tim Scott (SC) Christopher S. Murphy (CT)
Orrin G. Hatch (UT) Elizabeth Warren (MA)
Pat Roberts (KS)  
Bill Cassidy, M.D. (LA)  

House Education and the Workforce Committee Members 

John Kline, Minnesota (Chairman) Robert “Bobby” Scott (Senior Democratic Member) 
Joe Wilson, South Carolina Rubén Hinojosa, Texas 
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Susan A. Davis, California 
Duncan Hunter, California Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona 
David P. Roe, Tennessee  Joe Courtney, Connecticut 
Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania Marcia L. Fudge, Ohio 
Tim Walberg, Michigan Jared Polis, Colorado 
Matt Salmon, Arizona Gregorio Sablan, Northern Mariana Islands
Brett Guthrie, Kentucky Frederica S. Wilson, Florida
Todd Rokita, Indiana Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon           
Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Mark Pocan, Wisconsin
Joseph J. Heck, Nevada Mark Takano, California 
Luke Messer, Indiana Hakeem Jeffries, New York           
Bradley Byrne, Alabama Katherine Clark, Massachusetts           
Dave Brat, Virginia  Alma Adams, North Carolina           
Buddy Carter, Georgia Mark DeSaulnier, California           
Mike Bishop, Michigan   
Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin  
Steve Russell, Oklahoma   
Carlos Curbelo, Florida   
Elise Stefanik, New York   
Rick Allen, Georgia  

To learn more about the value of music education, please visit NAfME's Broader Minded website. 

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Congress Makes Section 179 Expensing Permanent

Included in the omnibus budget and tax reform legislation passed by Congress just before heading home for a holiday recess is a provision making permanent Section 179 in the Internal Revenue Code, which allows certain small business expense (i.e., immediately write off) certain capital expenditures which would otherwise have to be depreciated over many years.  The legislation raises the expensing limitation to $500,000 a year, and indexes the amount for inflation increases.  The $250,000 cap on qualified real property is eliminated beginning in 2016.  

The expensing provision has been in the IRS Code for several years, but only with short-term applicability dates.  The new law makes the expensing provision permanent, giving some tax certainty to small businesses.

Also included in the bill is a permanent extension of the 15-year depreciable life for retail, restaurant and leasehold improvements.  The retail industry has been lobbying for a separate depreciable asset for building improvements (not the buildings themselves) for nearly 20 years, so the inclusion of this permanent provision marks a major victory for the industry. 

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14th Semi-Annual Meeting of the Forest Legality Alliance Planned for December 15-16

Please mark your calendars for the 14th semi-annual meeting of the Forest Legality Alliance membership, which will take place on December 15-16 in Washington, DC.


The draft agenda and logistical information about the meeting is now available. This time, panels will focus on the Congo Basin, the guitar industry in the U.S., and the recent Lacey Act plea agreement between the Department of Justice and Lumber Liquidators. 


The meeting will begin with lunch at noon on Tuesday, December 15th, and end with lunch at noon on Wednesday, December 16th. Due to the ongoing renovation of the WRI office, the meeting will take place around the corner, at the following location:

American Psychological Association (APA)
Capitol View Conference Center
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002


To register for the meeting, please use the following online form

Besides the regular FLA meeting, FLA will host a discussion after lunch on December 16th, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on identifying user needs for information on timber legality and forest products trade housed on an interactive, web-based platform. WRI is assessing the currently existing information plaftorms, and determining user needs for expansions, upgrades, or new tools. FLA would great appreciate comments and feedback on this topic. If you would like to participate, please indicate so in the meeting registration form


Gotomeeting and a conference call-in number is provided for those participants who are unable to join in person. Please click here to find the remote access information. 


There is a limited number of hotel rooms at a conference rate at teh Phoenix Park Hotel, a few blocks from the meeting location. Please contact should you like to book one of these rooms. 

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NAMM Members Learn About Import-Export Regulations at Summer NAMM

July 16, 2015

Understanding the import and export regulations can be daunting. For NAMM Members who attended the 2015 Summer NAMM Show, experts were on hand to explain the regulatory process and give updates at the Import-Export Forum.

Jim Goldberg of Goldberg & Associates, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Inspector Robert Herndon and Meeghan Bell, were there to educate attendees on regulations impacting the shipment of plants, animal products and materials content labeling requirements. 

Herndon discussed importing and exporting musical instruments, having said, “If you travel oversees, check with the laws of the country you're going to. Every country is different."

Goldberg provided insight on frequently-shipped instruments, “If you're importing pianos and other stringed instruments, use form PPQ505.”

NAMM Members who are unclear of shipping regulations for their products were advised to contact U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service directly. "A fifteen minute phone conversation before shipping is better than us having to enforce on the back end,” said Bell.

“If we had the music industry move to 100% compliance with import and export regulations, that's our goal,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM's Director of Public Affairs. “The information and availability of resources are available to all NAMM Members."

For upcoming Import-Export related events, contact Luis Murguia at


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(Updated) Last Week to Submit Public Comments

The comment period is now closed, more than one million comments received. U.S. FIsh and Wildlife Service will review comments before issuing a final rule, which is not expected until 2016. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule regarding commercial transactions involving musical instruments and other products containing African elephant ivory.  The rule makes certain revisions to Director’s Order 210, which became effective May 15, 2014. Specifically the rule:

  • Establishes if and how musical instruments may be exported
  • Provides for an exemption from the general ban on interstate commerce in ivory products for those containing a de minimis amount of ivory (200 grams or less)
  • Revises how antiques are defined and how they may be sold in interstate commerce

An in-depth Q/A document issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides additional information on the proposed rule.  The public comment period closes September 28; instructions on how to file comments are now available

To view NAMM's response to the proposed rule, click here
To track other ivory related federal and state legislation, click here


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Track Ivory Legislation

Updated on October 5, 2015

In 2013, the Obama administration created a taskforce to address the effects of wildlife trafficking.  As a result, in 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began the process of implementing new regulations that essentially bans all commercial trade of products containing any quantity of elephant ivory, even those which are not purchased because of their ivory content. NAMM and its members support all efforts to end the illegal slaughter of elephants and their subsequent sale of their tusks for any purpose. Concerns remain over the unintended consequences of making vintage musical instruments, which may contain minute amounts of ivory, illegal. NAMM is diligently working with stakeholders and policymakers to achieve a reasonable and fair resolution.   Several states are taking up this issue and creating trade requirements for ivory within their state borders.  However, federal rules and regulations that are still in development may trump state laws.  Overtime, there will be a need to coordinate federal and state requirements for legal trade of instruments with ivory which is among the concerns expressed to both federal and state legislators.

As NAMM tracks these activities, it is providing formal comments as legislation is considered.

Track and learn more about proposed federal rules and state efforts below.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While a final rule has not been release, FWS has issued Director’s Order 210. Additionally, FWS has set up a Q&A section on ivory trade.

Federal Legislation

On July 15, Senators Daines (R, MT) and Alexander ( R, TN)  introduced the African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act (S. 1769).  If approved the proposal, among other things, would:  

  • Allow for the import, export, sale or possession of ivory products for museum displays or personal use
  • Prevent regulatory requirements proposed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director’s Order 210
  • Allow the import of some sport-hunted African elephant trophies
  • Provide financial assistance to projects in countries to curb ivory poaching
  • Allow the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, to post U.S. FWS enforcement officers in African countries with significant elephant population to facilitate in the apprehension of individuals who kill or assist in killing African elephants

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives introduced a similar bill, H.R. 697, earlier this year. That bill has been combined with another bill, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (also known as the SHARE Act or H.R. 2406), which is currently pending action in various House Committees.  


California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill (AB96) which bans virtually all elephant and mammoth ivory sales within the state effective July 1, 2016. The bill exempts musical instruments with less than 20% ivory by volume provided the seller has "historical documentation" showing the instrument's provenance and demonstrating that it was manufactured not later than 1975. NAMM has issued a detailed response to the newly approved proposal. 


The Connecticut legislature has introduced a total of 4 bills: HB 5470, HB 5700, HB 5718HB 5731 and HB 6955. While all five bills differ slightly, all ban ivory products. None of these bills have moved through the committees of jurisdiction. NAMM has issued a detailed response to HB 6955. 


On February 20, 2015, the Florida Senate introduced SB 1120. The proposed legislation would ban ivory articles and rhinoceros horns by specifically prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase and distribution of these products. The bill has been referred to committees.


Both chambers in the Hawaii legislature have introduced legislation banning ivory products. HB 837 was introduced on January 28 and has been referred to committees of jurisdiction. The Senate also introduced SB 674 which similarly prohibits the sale or trade of ivory or rhinoceros horn, though with some exemptions. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Environment and the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection but both have deferred the bill for the moment.


State Senator Linda Holmes introduced the Ivory Ban Act (SB 1858) on February 20, 2015.  The bill would make importing, selling or buying ivory, ivory products, rhinoceros horn or rhinoceros horn products unlawful. No further action has been reported since it was introduced.


Delegate Eric Luedtke introduced HB713 on February 12, 2015. If approved, this measure would have prohibited the purchase, sell, or intent to sale products containing ivory or rhinoceros horn.The bill failed to garner enough support to advance as it received an unfavorable report by the committee of jurisdiction on March 16, 2015. 


Representatives Lori Ehrlich and Jason Lewis have introduced bill H1275 which would ban the commerce of all products containing ivory. If approved, the current version of the bill will make it impossible for retailers and individuals to sell vintage instruments that contain any amount of ivory. A hearing has been schedule for October 21, 2015. NAMM has issued a response to H1275

New Jersey

On August 4, 2014, Governor Christie signed bill S2012 into law imposing a total ban on importing, selling, offering to sell, purchasing, or possessing with intent to sell any ivory product including musical instruments regardless of the product's age.  The bill allows the state Department of Environmental Protection to issue rules permitting import, possession or sale for bona fide educational or scientific purposes.  A first offender can be fined $1,000 or twice the total value of the ivory product, whichever is greater.

New York

On August 12, 2014, Governor Cuomo signed a similar bill (S7890) into law but allows exceptions to the ban for (a) a bona fide antique that has less than 20% by volume of ivory and the antique status can be established by the owner or seller of the product through "historical documentation evidencing provenance and showing the antique to be not less than 100 years old," and (b) a musical instrument containing ivory which was manufactured not later than 1975.  The Department of Environmental Conservation is authorized to issue rules setting forth what kind of documentation an instrument seller must have to demonstrate provenance and manufacture date. The musical instrument exception was added in the late stages of legislative debate as a result of efforts by a coalition of music industry groups including NAMM. New York's Department of Environmental Conservation requires any seller of ivory-containing products to obtain a permit to do so from the agency.


On March 17, 2015 legislatures in the Nevada state senate introduced SB 398. The bill aims to ban the sale or transfer of ivory and ivory products in the state. Notably, the proposal would allow certain exemptions for the following cases: antiques with small amounts of ivory, educational or scientific purposes, estate transfers, or musical instruments manufactured before December 31, 1975. NAMM has issued a detailed reponse to SB 398. 


Representative Mike Shelton introduced HB 1787 on January 22, 2015. If approved, the measure would prohibit the import, sale, purchase, barter or intention to sale ivory or rhinoceros horn products. The law would allow for certain exceptions including for educational or scientific purposes, documented antiques, musical instruments and firearms older than 1975.


The Oregon Senate Committee on Judiciary introduced SB 913 on March 3, 2015. The proposal would prohibit the import, sale, and purchase, among other things, of ivory products or part of a tusk or tooth from an elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, narwhal, walrus, or whale. In essence, this measure outlaws the commerical trade of all ivory products. While the measure allows for some exemptions, these do not cover musical instruments. The Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on March 24, 2015. You can track any legislative progress through the Oregon State Legislature

A ban on ivory product sales may also derive from a ballot initiative. If sponsors are able to collect enough signatures, a ballot initiative may appear on the 2016 ballot. 


SB 1215 was introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin. The proposal would make the import, sale, purchase, barter or possession with intent to sale of ivory, ivory products or rhinoceros horn products a class one misdemeanor. Second offenses would elevator the penalty to a class six felony. On January 26, the bill was referred to committee of jurisdiction where it failed to garner the support needed to advance.


In January, the Washington state legislature introduced a bill (SB 5241) that, if approved, would ban many products containing elephant and mammoth ivory. NAMM has issued a detailed response to this proposal.  

Additionally, a ballot initiative backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has been filed in Washington State.  The proposal would ban trade in several endangered species, including African elephant, but contains an exemption for musical instruments containing less than 15% by volume of ivory. To qualify for the November ballot, the proposal needs more than 246,000 signatures by July 2.  If the signatures are collected and if the voters approve, the initiative as written becomes law.

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New Trade Agreement Reached with Pacific Rim Nations

The United States Trade Representative’s office announced that it successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, signaling it had reached a trade agreement between Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zealand. According to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the TPP agreement aims to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.” Among the many provisions, the TPP parties agree to:

  • Eliminate and reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers on industrial and agriculture goods
  • Make tariffs and information related to goods trade more accessible to small and medium size businesses
  • Publish their customs laws and regulations, as well as providing for release of goods without unnecessary delay and on bond or ‘payment under protest’ where customs has not yet made a decision of duties or fees owed
  • Provide expedited customs procedures for express shipments
  • Make e-commerce more accessible by not requiring TPP companies to build data centers to store data as a condition for operating in a TPP market
  • Prohibit customs duties on electronic transmissions
  • Make it easier for businesses to search, register, and protect IP rights in new markets
  • Provide protections of brand names and other signs that businesses and individual use to distinguish their products in the marketplace
  • Establish commitments requiring protection for works, performances, and phonograms such as songs, movies, books, and software, and includes effective and balanced provisions on technological protection measures and rights managements information
  • Provide strong enforcement system, including civil procedures, provisional measures, order measures, and criminal procedures and penalties for commercial-scale trademark counterfeiting and copyright or related rights piracy
  • Create user-friendly websites, targeted at small and medium sized businesses, that describes TPP’s relevant provisions including regulations and procedures concerning intellectual property rights, foreign investment regulations, business registration procedures employment regulations, and taxation information

While representatives from each of the 12 TPP countries have agreed to these and other provisions, the agreement must be reviewed and approved by legislatures, including the U.S. Congress. Current law states that the Congress will have a 90-day window to review the agreement, once it receives notice from the White House that the President intends to sign the accord. A vote is not expected until sometime mid-2016.

To learn more about the TPP agreement, visit the United States Trade Representative’s website. 

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Proposed Ivory Sale Regulations Could Pose Hardship for Museums, Churches, Schools

On July 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published for public comment proposed regulations [80 Federal Register 45154] to implement a previously-announced plan to ban the interstate sale of almost all products containing elephant ivory.  Text of the proposed rule can be found on the FWS website, and by clicking on Federal Register notices. 

Under the proposal, all domestic sale of ivory or ivory-containing products would be banned, with the exception of:

  • any item over 100 years old and meeting the requirements for a bona fide “antique” under the federal Endangered Species Act; or
  • items less than 100 years old which contain not more than 200 grams (approximately seven ounces) of ivory, if the items was manufactured prior to the effective date of any final rule issued by FWS and the item is not made wholly or primarily of ivory.

The 200-gram weight limit was designed to exempt most musical instruments.  By way of background, ivory was used in certain acoustic guitars, pianos, organs, violin bows, bassoons, bagpipes and some other instruments, but, in general, use stopped in the mid-1970’s.

However, some musical instruments may fall outside the sale ban exemptions (e.g., pipe organs), making it impossible for museums and some other tax-exempt organizations to acquire these instruments for their collections or use.  Perhaps in recognition of this, FWS noted in its regulatory proposal that it was specifically seeking comment on whether there should be a separate exemption for museums.  Institutions such as churches, schools and orchestras which operate as tax-exempt entities were not cited.

The National Association of Music Merchants suggests that museums and others carefully review their acquisition needs and consider filing formal comments with FWS by the September 28, 2015 deadline.  Comments could urge that any final rule contain an exemption for museums and other institutions which are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Comments may be filed electronically at, and entering the following docket number in the search box: FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091.

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