Indiana Legislature Threatens to Cut Business Ties Over No-Call

Lawmakers in Indiana proposed a bill that would require the state to cut businesses off from government contracts unless they comply with Indiana's no-call law, even if the law is preempted by the Federal Communications Commission.

The proposal, announced yesterday by Republican state Sen. Greg Server, is a response to the Consumer Bankers Association's petition to the FCC to preempt no-call laws in Indiana and other states. Indiana's no-call law is inconsistent with the federal no-call law in that it does not provide for an existing-business-relationship exemption, whereas federal law exempts calls to consumers who have made a purchase in the past 18 months or an inquiry in the past three months.

Server's proposal is attached as an amendment to another bill, HB 1501. That bill requires contractors doing business with the government to certify that they have not violated Indiana's telephone privacy laws within the past year and will refrain from doing so while under contract.

Server is also a sponsor of HB 1501. The bill, with the amendment, passed out of committee and awaits a vote by the full state Senate.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, both of Indiana, urged the FCC not to preempt their state's no-call law. In a letter to the FCC, Bayh, a Democrat, and Lugar, a Republican, said that imposing the federal no-call law on the state would weaken consumer protections. Federal preemption of Indiana's law would water down consumer rights and lead to thousands of unwanted telemarketing calls, the senators said.

The FCC has yet to issue an opinion on preemption of state no-call laws, though K. Dane Snowden, chief of the FCC's consumer and government affairs bureau, said in February that the agency would act on the preemption issue “in the coming months.”

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