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Minnesota DNC Bill Passes House

Minnesota took another step toward establishing a do-not-call list Thursday when the House of Representatives approved establishing a state-run do-not-call list with stiff penalties for businesses that are found to be in violation, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

The vote was 126 to 8 and followed a Senate vote of 65-1 in favor last month.

The Direct Marketing Association was among the groups opposed to the measure.

A House-Senate conference committee is expected to resolve differences between the two chambers' versions of the bill “quickly.” Gov. Jesse Ventura has expressed his willingness to sign it, according to House sponsor Matt Entenza, DFL, St. Paul. State residents will probably have the ability to enroll free of charge early next year, he said.

Entenza said similar bills have not received hearings in the House during the past three years due to the power of the telemarketing lobby. However, legislators this year received hundreds of phone calls in support of the proposal from state members of the AARP.

Minnesotans who don't want to be contacted by telemarketers would be able to sign onto the list by e-mail, letter or telephone. Telemarketers violating it could be fined up to $1,000. But enrollees could still get pitches from non-profit fundraisers and political parties that are exempt because of constitutional free-speech requirements, Entenza said. Also exempt would be a business call to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a customer to complete a sale.

To cover the Commerce Department's cost of establishing and maintaining the system, telemarketers will have to purchase a list every three months, paying up to $500 the first year, $360 the second year and $300 for the third. The department estimates that 1,000 companies will do so. There are 1.8 million residential phone lines in the state.

However, Rep. Richard Mulder, R-Ivanhoe, said businesses shouldn't be forced to pay for something that people can deal with on their own. The newspaper reported that he said he was receiving seven to 10 computerized telemarketing calls per night before he purchased a call-blocking device for $35 that reduced them to one each week.

The bill also would prohibit telemarketers from interfering with consumers’ caller-ID systems.

Under an amendment adopted Thursday, Minnesota subscribers to the state list would be added to a federal do-not-call registry if one is established by the Federal Trade Commission and businesses would have to buy only the latter.

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