NEW JERSEY — Newspaper distribution is subject to an anti- littering ordinance under a bill passed by a New Jersey Senate committee in late January. The bill prohibits free and commercial newspapers from delivering unsolicited samples of their publications.
Sen. Joseph L. Bubba (R-Passaic), the bill’s sponsor, said the bill would amend the state’s anti-littering law to include newsprint items in its list of “litter-generating products.”
Any person or entity which ignores a resident’s request to halt delivery of a publication would be subject to a “petty disorderly persons” conviction, a $100 fine and a requirement to perform 20 to 40 hours of community service, including litter pickup and removal.
The New Jersey Press Association, which lobbies on behalf of 20 daily and 138 weekly newspapers, strongly opposed the bill and succeeded in amending it so that the penalties can be applied only after a complaining resident asks the publisher to stop.
Bubba said the bill, passed by the Senate Government Committee in a 4-1 vote, was prompted by complaints from his constituents in New Jersey’s Passaic County. Residents said unsolicited publications tossed in front of homes created litter and security problems when the papers piled up, indicating the owners were out of town, according to the senator.
The bill, as well as a bill prohibiting the distribution of unsolicited faxes, now awaits a vote by the full Senate.
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.