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Saturday, January 18, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Senate passes bill to ease do-not-call restrictions, sends bill to governor

The Senate has voted 26-6 in favor of HB 55, the bill brought by two phone companies to allow telephone, cable and other telecom companies to make commercial solicitation calls to their existing customers even if they’re on the do-not-call list. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, noted that the bill adds those companies to the existing do-not-call exemption for businesses with an existing relationship with a customer; and also adds a clause saying if one of those businesses calls and the customer tells them to stop calling, they can’t call again. Violations could mean a $500 fine.

Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, said the bill has been “misrepresented in the media” and “should not be a problem at all.” He said, “We’ve developed whole new strategies for dealing with unwanted phone calls, like not answering them. The registry is kind of becoming an anachronism.”

The Idaho Attorney General’s office opposed the bill at committee hearings in both houses, saying Idaho consumers overwhelmingly are telling the office they want fewer solicitation calls at home, not more.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said he was in the Senate when the do-not-call list legislation first was approved 13 years ago. “I don’t recall a bill that was more popular and had more grease on its side than this bill,” he said. “I think we can each recall 13 years ago what it was like at supper time when you were trying to have a family dinner or watch a television show or watch a University of Idaho football game on a weekend, not always the best experience, especially in 2000. However, I know what the people in the state of Idaho wanted in 2000. And so my vote is going to be a legacy vote respecting what I believe I supported back then.”

He added, “Now, I would also be less than honest with you if I didn’t acknowledge that since 2000 the world changed in the way of telecommunication. I realize today that the current exception is not particularly fair, and that it does statutorily provide a competitive advantage to some and to the disadvantage of another. There is, however, a different way to achieve parity, and that is not done in this bill. This allows both to call, both types of industry. Another approach for parity is to say that neither can. And that is not the bill here.”

HB 55 earlier passed the House, so now it heads to the governor’s desk.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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