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After spirited debate over what's right for small businesses, the state Senate today turned down a proposal to allow consumers to opt out of getting telephone directories delivered at their front doors.

Senate Bill 920 by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would have required language be printed on directories explaining to consumers that they could request not to get a hard copy listings published by third-party vendors.

Yee also said businesses were not necessarily getting their money's worth out of ads in directories that more people are not using and tossing in the garbage in the age of the Internet.

He said the directories are often "wasted away" in dumps and that consumers should be able to ask not to get one.

Mark Wyland, R-Escondido, was one of the 18 senators who voted against the bill, which received 12 votes in support. Ten senators didn't cast votes.

"I believe that in time they (directories) will become dinosaurs. But I think that day is a long, long way off," Wyland said.

Some senators argued that younger people automatically go online to look for information about businesses, but that older people tend to rely more on phone books.

Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, said small businesses would be hurt by the measure because they rely heavily on consumers finding them through hard-copy directories.

"It hurts workers, the working man," he said of the bill.

He also said online phone directory businesses backed Yee's measure to gain a competitive edge.

Yee said that if consumers want telephone directories delivered, they still had that choice under his bill. The measure required that a phone number or Website be printed on a directory so consumers could contact a company and ask for future deliveries to be stopped.

Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield agreed with Yee.

"Talk about making a big deal over nothing," he said. "I'm ready to opt out." He said all the bill did was offer consumers a choice.


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