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CSSB 138(JUD): "An Act relating to the inclusion of the charges of a vendor of goods or services on the bills of certain telecommunications carriers; and adding an unlawful act to the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act."

00                       CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 138(JUD)                                                                   
01 "An Act relating to the inclusion of the charges of a vendor of goods or services on the                                
02 bills of certain telecommunications carriers; and adding an unlawful act to the Alaska                                  
03 Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act."                                                                    
04 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
05    * Section 1. AS 42.05 is amended by adding a new section to article 8 to read:                                     
06            Sec. 42.05.715. Telecommunications carrier bills; disclosures and                                          
07       contested charges. (a) A telecommunications carrier shall clearly identify in separate                          
08       sections of a customer's bill                                                                                     
09                 (1)  charges by each person or billing agent that generates a charge on                                 
10       the bill; and                                                                                                     
11                 (2)  the information provided to the telecommunications carrier under                                   
12       (b) of this section.                                                                                              
13            (b)  A person or billing agent may not charge customers of a                                                 
14       telecommunications carrier on the carrier's bill for a product or service unless the                              
01       person or billing agent provides to the telecommunications carrier the following                                  
02       information:                                                                                                      
03                 (1)  the amount charged for each product or service, separately                                         
04       identifying taxes or surcharges;                                                                                  
05                 (2)  a clear and concise description of the product or service that is the                              
06       basis of the charge;                                                                                              
07                 (3)  the name of the entity providing the product or service or otherwise                               
08       generating the charge; and                                                                                        
09                 (4)  a toll-free telephone number or other no-cost means of contacting                                  
10       the entity generating the charge to resolve a dispute regarding the charge.                                       
11            (c)  A telecommunications carrier may not discontinue services to a customer                                 
12       based on the customer's failure to pay a charge of another person or billing agent                                
13       appearing on the telecommunications carrier's bill, when the customer has contested                               
14       the charge using the contact information provided under (b) of this section and orally                            
15       or electronically informed the telecommunications carrier of the reason for                                       
16       nonpayment.                                                                                                       
17            (d)  A telecommunications carrier may recover from a person or billing agent                                 
18       reasonable costs incurred in implementing billing changes or otherwise complying                                  
19       with this section.                                                                                                
20            (e)  The commission may adopt regulations to carry out the provisions of this                                
21       section.                                                                                                          
22            (f)  In this section,                                                                                        
23                 (1)  "billing agent" has the meaning given in AS 45.50.476;                                             
24                 (2)  "telecommunications carrier" means a telecommunications utility                                    
25       required to be certificated by or registered with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.                            
26    * Sec. 2. AS 45.50.471(b) is amended by adding a new paragraph to read:                                            
27                 (58)  violating AS 45.50.476 (charges billed by telecommunications                                      
28       carriers).                                                                                                        
29    * Sec. 3. AS 45.50 is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                     
30            Sec. 45.50.476. Charges billed by telecommunications carriers. (a) Except                                  
31       as provided in (c) of this section, a person or billing agent may not bill charges for                            
01       goods or services on a customer's telephone bill from a telecommunications carrier.                             
02            (b)  A person or billing agent may not induce a telecommunications carrier,                                  
03       directly or through an intermediary, to bill a customer for goods or services of a                                
04       vendor unless the billing is permitted under (c) of this section.                                                 
05            (c)  This section does not apply to an itemized billing in compliance with                                   
06       AS 42.05.715 for                                                                                                  
07                 (1)  the sale of goods or services governed by an effective tariff of                                   
08                      (A)  a public utility operating under a certificate of public                                      
09            convenience and necessity issued by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska; or                                  
10                      (B)  a carrier operating under a certificate, license, or                                          
11            authorization issued by the Federal Communications Commission;                                               
12                 (2)  direct-dial or dial-around services initiated from the customer's                                  
13       telephone;                                                                                                        
14                 (3)  operator-assisted telephone calls, collect calls, or telephone                                     
15       services provided to facilitate communications to or from inmates in a correctional                               
16       center; or                                                                                                        
17                 (4)  goods or services for which the person or billing agent has                                        
18       provided the telecommunications carrier with                                                                      
19                      (A)  the following:                                                                                
20                           (i)  an electronic letter with the consumer's express                                         
21                 authorization of the charge;                                                                            
22                           (ii)  proof that a written confirmation of the charge was                                     
23                 provided to the consumer; and                                                                           
24                           (iii)  the consumer's birthdate or the last four digits of                                    
25                 the consumer's social security number; or                                                               
26                      (B)  independent third-party verification of the customer's                                        
27            express authorization.                                                                                       
28            (d)  Telecommunications carriers have no duty to verify independently the                                    
29       accuracy of information received from a person or billing agent under this section.                               
30            (e)  In this section,                                                                                        
31                 (1)  "billing agent" means a person or entity that aggregates consumer                                  
01       billings or serves as a clearinghouse for aggregate billings and submits charges for                              
02       goods or services to the billing telecommunications carrier on behalf of itself or a                              
03       vendor;                                                                                                           
04                 (2)  "express authorization" means                                                                      
05                      (A)  a customer agreement to be billed for the charges in a                                        
06            signed, written document in paper, electronic, or digital form; or                                           
07                      (B)  oral agreement to be billed for the charges after the                                         
08            customer's identity has been verified by an independent third-party verification                             
09            company using unique identifying information;                                                                
10                 (3)  "telecommunications carrier" means a telecommunications utility                                    
11       required to be certificated by or registered with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.                            
12    * Sec. 4. AS 45.50.481(a) is amended to read:                                                                      
13            (a)  Nothing in AS 45.50.471 - 45.50.561 applies to                                                          
14                 (1)  an act or transaction regulated under laws administered by the state,                              
15       by a regulatory board or commission except as provided by AS 45.50.471(b)(27),                                
16       [AND] (30), and (58), or officer acting under statutory authority of the state or of the                      
17       United States, unless the law regulating the act or transaction does not prohibit the                             
18       practices declared unlawful in AS 45.50.471;                                                                      
19                 (2)  an act done by the publisher, owner, agent, or employee of a                                       
20       newspaper, periodical, or radio or television station in the publication or dissemination                         
21       of an advertisement, when the owner, agent, or employee did not have knowledge of                                 
22       the false, misleading, or deceptive character of the advertisement or did not have a                              
23       direct financial interest in the sale or distribution of the advertised product or service;                       
24                 (3)  an act or transaction regulated under AS 21.36 or AS 06.05 or a                                    
25       regulation adopted under the authority of those chapters.