Wisconsin Seeks to Restore $10,000 DNC Fine

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A lawmaker in Wisconsin along with Gov. Jim Doyle yesterday announced a push to resume issuing fines of $10,000 per violation of the state's no-call list. A state judge overturned Wisconsin's no-call law last month.

Doyle and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach will introduce legislation to restore the old fines as well as a private right-of-action clause that the judge be removed from the case. No-call-list supporters will prepare a bill in the fall in time for consideration by the legislature when it reconvenes in January.

The state legislature passed a no-call bill in 2001, but then-Gov. Scott McCallum vetoed the part of the law calling for the $10,000 fines. However, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection continued to enforce the $10,000 fine, stating that existing general trade practice laws justified the fine.

On June 29, Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, ruling that the department overstepped its authority, cut the $10,000 penalty to $100.

"The message it sends is, 'Yeah, they've got a no-call list, but the fines aren't too bad, so let's keep calling,'" Erpenbach said of the $100 fine.

Erpenbach and Doyle also criticized the national no-call list and urged the state to oppose any attempt by the federal government to pre-empt the state list. Erpenbach has been vocal in his opposition to federal pre-emption of state no-call lists, even suggesting that Wisconsin might sue to retain its list.

Federal regulators have said that national rules apply for interstate calls, but that state rules can apply for intrastate calls when the state rules are tougher. In cases of conflict between state and national rules, state rules are "almost certainly" pre-empted, federal regulators have said.

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