Topeka — Lawmakers are closer to giving consumers what they want a safe harbor from telemarketing calls.
A joint conference committee agreed Friday on a compromise "no-call" bill, reconciling differences between the House and the Senate over versions both chambers approved earlier this year. Approval in both chambers would send the bill to Gov. Bill Graves.
Under the different versions, both modified from industry proposals, 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.
"It will significantly reduce unsolicited telemarketing calls," said Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, a member of the conference committee.
The negotiators tightened a section that allows calls to consumers with whom companies have an existing "business relationship," and defined that term more clearly. For consumers to establish business relationships, they must fill out applications or make purchases from companies before being contacted by them.
Other protections would require telemarketers to allow their numbers be displayed on caller ID devices by 2004 and mandate that the Direct Marketing Assn. offer one free method of registration.
The House's version contained those two protections, but the Senate's did not. During negotiations, the House prevailed.
The committee kept a provision that the Senate included but the House didn't to allow the attorney general to gather names for the list at no charge and forward them to the DMA. That provision is optional because of cost and would not be instituted until funding was provided from the Legislature.
Early in the session, lawmakers were considering two proposals, the industry-backed proposal, and a no-call list controlled and administered by the Attorney General's Office.
Backers of a state list included Adkins and the AARP, which represents about 350,000 Kansans age 50 or older.