Archive for Friday, April 5, 2002

No-call bill gets House approval

Lawmakers send consumer-protection measure back to Senate

April 5, 2002


— Lawmakers who are trying to meet consumer demand for a way to avoid telemarketing calls must now reconcile different versions of an industry-backed proposal.

By a 105-18 vote, the House on Thursday passed a no-call bill and sent it back to the Senate. Several consumer protections were added in the House, so that a version acceptable to both chambers will probably have to be negotiated.

Area legislators voted with the majority in the House's 105-18 approval of the no-call bill to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing contacts.Voting for the bill were Reps. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence; Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin, and Reps. Barbara Ballard and Troy Findley, both D-Lawrence.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. John Vratil said Thursday the two chambers did not seem too far apart.

"I think there are a lot of ideas we can work with in conference," said Vratil, R-Leawood. "If the bill doesn't have enough consumer protection, it's not worth doing."

Under both the House and Senate plans, Kansans could place themselves on a no-call list maintained by the Direct Marketing Assn., which would sell it to businesses. Consumers would be registered for five years at a time and could do so either by mail, at no cost, or via the Internet for $5.

The House tightened a section that allows calls to consumers with whom companies have an existing "business relationship." The House wants to ensure that such relationships are no more than 3 years old.

Other protections would require telemarketers to have their numbers be displayed on caller ID devices by 2004 and mandate that the Direct Marketing Assn. offer one free method of registration.

The Senate approved the industry-backed plan after setting aside another bill that would have had the state create and keep a no-call list and put the Attorney General's Office in charge of enforcement.

Backers of that idea included the AARP, which represents about 350,000 Kansans age 50 or older.

Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, would have preferred that the state rather than the industry group keep the list.

However, Dillmore said, the bill as passed is "stronger no-call legislation than we currently have. I think we can expect the industry to respect the wishes of the consumers."

Opponents said any no-call law would hurt small businesses that rely on telemarketing to find customers.

"No matter how much we hate those calls, the small business will be the one that pays the price," said Rep. Bill Mason, R-El Dorado.

Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, who carried the industry amendment during Senate debate, said he opposes any plan that would create a new bureaucracy in the Attorney General's Office.

Still, he thought senators can find common ground with the House.

Other senators were pleased with the consumer protections added by the House.

No call legislation is House Sub for Sub for SB 296.

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