State Bills Are in Bloom This Spring

It's that time of year again. Baseballs are flying, the birds are signing, and your state legislature is in full swing (most of them).

As I am writing this, 43 states are in session, while two already have finished their work for the year. With that kind of activity, it should come as no surprise that the introduction of legislation aimed at the telemarketing industry has again been plentiful.

This month, I want to walk through some of the most important and perhaps onerous legislation pending in the states and encourage any readers who think these bills may harm their businesses to take their cases directly to their legislators:

Arizona. Senate Bill 1032 would require registration of professional companies that solicit charitable contributions, including a $25,000 bond and a description of the scope of the calling campaign.

California. Assembly Bill 2456 would prohibit the use of prison labor for both inbound and outbound telemarketing.

California. Senate Bill 1258 would prohibit the California attorney general from charging consumers to have their name placed on the state do-not-call list.

Connecticut. Senate Bill 503 would let businesses put their number on the state DNC list.

Idaho. House Bill 686 would require an actual purchase of goods or services within the past 60 days to qualify for the existing business relationship exemption.

Idaho. Senate Bill 1298 would remove the state exemption for calls made to set appointments without actually completing the sale on the call.

Indiana. Senate Bill 271 would let electronic signatures satisfy the “signed writing requirement.”

Kentucky. House Bill 199 would prohibit financial institutions from sharing their customers' credit card data with telemarketers for solicitation purposes.

Maryland. Senate Bill 66 would prohibit the use of recorded messages to solicit business to consumers or as messages on answering services.

Minnesota. Senate Bill 2473 would prohibit the sending of unsolicited faxes.

New York. Assembly Bill 724 would require marketers to disclose to consumers that they have the right to remove their names from mailing or calling lists.

New York. Assembly Bill 3915 would require telemarketers to disclose at the start of the call that it is a telephone solicitation and then state, “If you do not wish to participate, please hang up.”

Oklahoma. House Bill 470 would make it illegal to use a system or equipment that dials and engages a number of more than one person at a time but allows only one line at a time to be connected to the seller. This bill appears to be an attempt to eliminate abandoned calls using a predictive dialer.

Pennsylvania. House Bill 1085 would require telemarketers to reduce sales to written contracts and obtain customers' signatures on such contracts. It also would prohibit blocking Caller-ID.

Rhode Island. House Bill 6197 would change the current cut-off point for non-exempt telemarketers from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m.

South Dakota. House Bill 1227 would prohibit the faxing or e-mailing of unsolicited advertisements.

Utah. House Bill 260 would prohibit telephone solicitations except between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. and would prohibit calls on Sundays and holidays.

Efforts to regulate the industry at the state level are all over the map. Also, note that I skipped any references to the most popular piece of state legislation this year: the state DNC list. No fewer than 21 states seek to establish state-administered lists. They would join the 20 that already have such lists.

Some of these states are taking an alternative approach to creating their own lists. Instead, they are requiring companies to buy and scrub their calling databases through the DMA's Telephone Preference Service for that particular state.

Regardless of who administers it, it still amounts to an administrative nightmare trying to integrate all these state-specific lists into your calling program.

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