WI Governor Weighs DNC Bill

A do-not-call list bill has passed both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature, but it still must clear one last hurdle — Gov. Scott McCallum's veto pen, should he choose to use it.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, stalled earlier this year during a finance committee review but was revived as an attachment to the state's budget. McCallum is reviewing the 700-page budget document, which he must act on by Sept. 5, said his spokeswoman, Debbie Monterrey-Millet.

McCallum has not made up his mind on the issue yet, but a decision is expected by the end of August and possibly within a week, Monterrey-Millet said yesterday. Wisconsin gives its governor broad veto powers, so McCallum could remove the whole bill or part of it.

“I can't give an answer on what will happen to that until we get down to the nitty-gritty of the whole thing,” Monterrey-Millet said.

The governor's office has been inundated with mail from constituents on both sides of the issue urging the governor to act. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that of the 800 letters the governor received, 450 called for a veto.

Among the industry organizations leading the effort to win a veto of the DNC list bill is Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's 4,600-member business association.

But the bill's author, Erpenbach, said he cannot understand why the industry is trying to block a state DNC list. Such a list would serve to remove consumers who do not want calls from their telemarketing lists, thereby saving them time and money, he said.

Consumers have made clear their desire for a DNC list in the state, Erpenbach said. The state's Department of Consumer Protection estimates that 1 million people will register within the first year.

“This is the No. 1 thing in the budget everyone wants to talk about,” Erpenbach said. “The people I talk to, everybody wants to be the first one on the list.”

As currently written, the DNC list bill calls for fines of $1,000 to $10,000 per violation of the list. Nonprofit fundraisers and researchers would be exempt, while political parties would not be.

Politicians could make personal phone calls to constituents but would have to use the list if they hire outside parties to call for them. The same would apply to business owners.

Registration would be available via a toll-free hotline and online.

Erpenbach said he expects that the governor might veto the penalties portion of the bill and allow a committee to determine a fine schedule later. Such a compromise would be acceptable, he said.

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