Montana do-not-mail bill tabled

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Montana's do-not-mail bill has been tabled in the judiciary committee at the sponsors' request, DM News has learned.

The Montana Do-Not-Mail Act, HB 718, was introduced Feb. 15 by state Rep. Franke Wilmer, a Democrat. It was tabled Feb. 22.

Direct calls to the Ms. Wilmer were not returned.

The bill called for the establishment and administration by the state's attorney general of a database containing a list of mailing addresses of residents who object to receiving solicitations. Also, four times a year the AG must obtain listings of Montana residents whose names and addresses are included on any national do-not-mail list and add those names and addresses to the state database.

If the bill became law, marketers would not be allowed to mail solicitations to those Montana residents on the list. If marketers did market to them, they would be required to pay a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.

The direct mail community is keeping a close eye on the rash of do-not-mail bills that have been introduced to state legislators this year in hopes that the passage of the bills is blocked.

As of Feb. 10, ten states introduced do-not-mail bills that include a do-not-mail registry similar to do-not-call legislation. As a result of today's news, the number drops to nine. Those states are Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Washington. In total, 12 bills have been filed in both the houses and senates of these states.

In some states, the do-not-mail registry would be set up and maintained by the state's consumer protection board; in other states, they would be set up the attorney general. In most cases, marketers who mail solicitations to individuals on theses lists would have to pay fines of several thousand dollars per violation. In the case of Michigan, violations can result in up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $500. In all cases, nonprofits and politicians would be exempt. There would also be a business-relationship exemption.

Several other bills - in New York, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington - offer related measures including the creation of a do-not-mail registry of certain senior citizens and people with mental illness. Another would prohibit mailing credit card solicitations to people under the age of 21.

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