Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/08/2002 03:25 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 448-TELEMARKETERS PHONE LISTS/REGISTRATION                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI announced  that the next order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 448, "An  Act relating to establishing  a data                                                               
base  of  residential telephone  customers  who  do not  wish  to                                                               
receive telephone solicitations, providing  that the data base be                                                               
compiled  at  no  cost  to  the  customers,  requiring  telephone                                                               
solicitors  to  purchase  the  data   base,  and  requiring  paid                                                               
solicitors to register; and providing for an effective date."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI also  announced that it was not  her intention to                                                               
move HB 448 from committee today.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1244                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  moved to adopt 22-LS1407\L,  Craver, 4/8/02,                                                               
as the  working document.   There being  no objection,  Version L                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD,  testifying as the sponsor,  related his                                                               
belief  that  there  is  consensus that  the  present  law  isn't                                                               
working properly because it isn't  well publicized.  He explained                                                               
that under  current law the  consumer is charged  to be on  a do-                                                               
not-call list.   This legislation would transfer the  cost to the                                                               
telemarketers.   Representative Crawford pointed out  that having                                                               
a single list would make it  easier for the telemarketers and for                                                               
enforcement when  telemarketers call folks listed  on the do-not-                                                               
call list.   Representative Crawford concluded  by expressing his                                                               
desire to work with all involved in order to develop a good law.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1361                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CODY  RICE, Intern  for Representative  Joe  Hayes, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that HB 448 addresses  the following main                                                               
problems:  the  promulgation of the current  statute, the payment                                                               
of service for being included  on the [do-not-call] list, and the                                                               
clarity  of   definitions  and  exemptions.     This  legislation                                                               
modifies the existing statute such  that the burden of paying for                                                               
the do-not-call  list is on the  users of the list,  which is the                                                               
telemarketer.   The legislation  also increases  public awareness                                                               
of the consumer's option to  participate in the do-not-call list.                                                               
Furthermore,  the  legislation  removes  the  loopholes  of  paid                                                               
solicitors operating  under exemptions of organizations  by which                                                               
they are contracted.  Therefore,  better regulation and increased                                                               
revenue results.   Mr. Rice said that HB 448  will return privacy                                                               
to Alaskan homes while clarifying  current law and increasing the                                                               
safety   of  consumers   who  are   the   subject  of   predatory                                                               
telemarketing.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1452                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  posed  a  situation  in  which  staff  for                                                               
politicians  are being  paid to  make  calls and  asked if  those                                                               
staff would be included in HB 448.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  RICE  answered  that  exemptions  already  exist  for  those                                                               
soliciting political  opinions or  thoughts and  those exemptions                                                               
haven't  been changed.   In  further  response to  Representative                                                               
Meyer, Mr.  Rice said  that the  exemptions include  pollsters so                                                               
long  as   they  aren't  soliciting   money.    In   response  to                                                               
Representative  Rokeberg,  Mr.   Rice  specified  that  currently                                                               
politicians are  exempt and would remain  so as long as  they are                                                               
soliciting political  opinions or  campaign funds from  those who                                                               
have expressed  an interest or  have contributed in  the previous                                                               
six months.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER posed  a situation in which  a politician is                                                               
calling to solicit an individual's vote.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. RICE  said that would  be considered a political  opinion and                                                               
would be exempt.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER remarked  that in  some ways  he felt  that                                                               
this legislation should pertain to politicians.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1549                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI   posed  a  situation  in   which  a  charitable                                                               
organization is soliciting funds.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. RICE answered that charitable  organizations will continue to                                                               
have  exempt status  so long  as they  operate under  the current                                                               
exemption  clause.    He explained  that  the  current  exemption                                                               
clause  specifies  that  the charitable  organization  [can  only                                                               
solicit people] who have expressed  previous interest in donating                                                               
funds or have done so within a specified amount of time.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI  posed a  situation  in  which  her child  is  a                                                               
participant  in the  Boys &  Girls Club  and she  pays for  their                                                               
soccer fees.   In such  a situation  would it be  appropriate for                                                               
the Boys  & Girls Club to  do a direct financial  solicitation to                                                               
me.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. RICE responded that he wasn't sure.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  reiterated  that  the  current  statute                                                               
isn't  being  changed.   The  legislation  only places  the  paid                                                               
solicitor under this law.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  surmised then that  it would be  appropriate for                                                               
the financial  director of  the Boys  & Girls  Club to  call her.                                                               
However, if the  club pays for a solicitor, the  club cannot call                                                               
her if she [is on the do-not-call list].                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said he believes that to be correct.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1625                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI turned  to Section 1 of [Version L]  and asked if                                                               
there are  penalties associated to  the violations  [discussed in                                                               
Section 1].                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. RICE replied yes.  He  directed attention to the Voice of the                                                             
Times article, which specifies that fines can sum up to $5,000.                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI asked  if that  would be  the case  because [the                                                               
telemarketer]  has violated  the unfair  trade practices  and the                                                               
penalties are already attached.   The initial drafts don't appear                                                               
to  assess   any  civil   penalties.     In  many   states,  [the                                                               
telemarketer] can  face $500 or $1,000  a call.  She  related her                                                               
belief that there should be some penalties attached.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. RICE  deferred to the  representative from the  Department of                                                               
Law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD related  that there  seems to  be fairly                                                               
good consensus  on Sections 1  and 3-7.   However, Section  2 has                                                               
been the subject of some discord,  which he has attempted to work                                                               
through.  If  this legislation is held today, Section  2 could be                                                               
brought  back in  an acceptable  form.   Representative  Crawford                                                               
explained that  [everyone] is working towards  putting this under                                                               
a third-party  contractor rather  than having local  exchanges or                                                               
the attorney  general's office being  responsible for this.   The                                                               
third-party contractor would administer  the do-not-call list and                                                               
the 1-800 number.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1793                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if the  same third party would have                                                               
a  database  of  who  can be  called.    Representative  Rokeberg                                                               
indicated that the legislation doesn't  seem to prohibit anything                                                               
like that.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  said that it seems  that the legislation                                                               
is  encouraging  the establishment  of  a  database of  telephone                                                               
solicitation.    Perhaps that's  why  the  solicitors don't  mind                                                               
paying for it.   He inquired as to how updates  of the list would                                                               
be done.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  RICE  answered  that  many  states  have  updated  the  list                                                               
quarterly.  Mr.  Rice agreed that this list would  make it easier                                                               
for telemarketers  to call  those not  on the  [do-not-call] list                                                               
and it  would make their job  more efficient.  However,  those on                                                               
the [do-not-call]  list have  the option  to be  on the  list for                                                               
free.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG inquired  as to the cost of  being on the                                                               
[do-not-call] list in Anchorage.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD said  that in  Anchorage it  costs about                                                               
$6.50 and  is a one-time  fee.   In response to  Chair Murkowski,                                                               
Representative  Crawford agreed  that the  fee is  dependent upon                                                               
the carrier and he was referring only to Anchorage and ACS.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER pointed out that one could have caller id.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  noted that  [many] of  the telemarketers                                                               
have their id blocked and so no id shows up.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  informed  the   committee  of  a  new  item                                                               
available to  attach to a  phone that supposedly  eliminates 99.9                                                               
percent of the telemarketing telephone calls.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  explained that the  aforementioned product                                                               
is  based  on  the  idea   that  most  telemarketers  utilize  an                                                               
automated  dialing system  and  when the  recipient  of the  call                                                               
answers the call  is forward to an operator.   When that happens,                                                               
the product sends a signal that disengages the telephone.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1988                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BOB TAYLOR,  Alaska Commission on  Aging, informed  the committee                                                               
that he was  filling in for the Executive Director  of the Alaska                                                               
Commission on Aging.  Mr. Taylor  said he wasn't sure whether the                                                               
commission has  had the  opportunity to take  a firm  position on                                                               
this legislation.   However, all the comments thus  far have been                                                               
that  the   commission  favors  this  type   of  legislation  and                                                               
restrictions on predatory solicitations.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2039                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARIE DARLIN,  AARP, expressed pleasure  that these  hearings are                                                               
taking  place.   Ms. Darlin  announced AARP's  support of  HB 448                                                               
because 50 percent of those  receiving telemarketing calls are to                                                               
seniors who  are often the  ones that  are taken advantage  of by                                                               
telemarketers.   In a  recent survey of  AARP members  in Alaska,                                                               
AARP  members were  asked their  top  priorities for  legislative                                                               
issues.   Of  the seniors  age 50-59,  19 percent  specified that                                                               
consumer fraud  was one of  the prime  concerns.  Of  the seniors                                                               
age 75  and older, 30  percent specified that consumer  fraud was                                                               
one of the  prime concerns.  She  said AARP would like  to see HB
448 passed  once the  concerns of  the attorney  general's office                                                               
are addressed.   She highlighted that  if HB 448 passes  it won't                                                               
cost the individual to be on the [do-not-call] list.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER asked  if this  legislation should  include                                                               
those running for elected office.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. DARLIN said there don't seem  to be too many complaints about                                                               
a  survey that  is political  in nature.   In  fact, seniors  are                                                               
often  very  willing to  provide  their  opinion when  their  are                                                               
surveys.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER surmised  then  that Ms.  Darlin is  saying                                                               
that  most AARP  members wouldn't  mind a  candidate calling  and                                                               
requesting  their   vote  because  the  AARP   member  could  ask                                                               
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. DARLIN  reiterated her former answer  and indicated agreement                                                               
that the AARP member would probably ask the candidate questions.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2211                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked if  AARP's support  for HB  448 is                                                               
related to [the belief] that  the "black dot system" [the do-not-                                                               
call list] isn't working.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DARLIN answered  that this  legislation clarifies  a lot  of                                                               
issues.  Also, the legislation  doesn't require the individual to                                                               
pay to be on the [do-not-call] list.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked if Ms. Darlin  feels that Alaskans                                                               
aren't being served by the "black dot system."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. DARLIN pointed  out that in lots of places  in the state this                                                               
system isn't even  available.  She pointed out  that whether this                                                               
system is available  or not depends upon  an individual's carrier                                                               
as is the case with the fee.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  informed  the committee  that  Alaska's                                                               
current  "black  dot  list"  includes  about  2  percent  of  the                                                               
telephone  customers in  the state.   The  average in  the states                                                               
that  do this  is 10-20  percent.   Therefore, it  seems that  it                                                               
isn't  being utilized  [in Alaska].    Most of  the other  states                                                               
charge the telemarketers  rather than the consumers.   Having the                                                               
consumers pay to  be on this list  is a barrier, he  related.  He                                                               
noted that the  cost to be on the list  ranges from $6.50-$12.50.                                                               
There is  even a telemarketer that  has approval to charge  up to                                                               
$50.   Currently,  many of  the  telemarketers utilize  computer-                                                               
generated  lists   on  which  the  black   dot  isn't  specified.                                                               
Therefore,  many people  on the  "black dot  list" receive  calls                                                               
from  telemarketers.    This legislation  attempts  to  create  a                                                               
centralized list for the entire state.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DARLIN interjected  that AARP  members  have mentioned  that                                                               
they have paid  to be on the "black dot  list," but still receive                                                               
calls.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 02-53, SIDE B                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2338                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DENNIS HARRIS informed the committee  that he isn't on the "black                                                               
dot  list" because  he was  opposed  to paying  for it.   No  one                                                               
should  have to  pay  for  the privilege  of  having an  unlisted                                                               
telephone number.   Furthermore, he didn't  believe anyone should                                                               
have to  pay for telemarketers  to not call  him.  For  what this                                                               
legislation  does  in  that  vein,   he  was  much  appreciative.                                                               
However, he expressed concern that  on the state's web page, only                                                               
six solicitors are  listed under the current law.   Therefore, he                                                               
surmised that many  of the people calling from  outside the state                                                               
aren't following  Alaska's law.   He informed the  committee that                                                               
under  the federal  "Junk  Fax"  law there  is  a provision  that                                                               
allows people who receive junk faxes  to go to small claims court                                                               
and obtain a  judgment against the person who sent  the junk fax.                                                               
He expressed  the need for the  same type of provision  in HB 448                                                               
so that consumers  won't have to depend upon the  government or a                                                               
government contractor  to enforce this.   Under the  federal law,                                                               
if an  individual has  informed someone to  place him/her  on the                                                               
do-not-call    list   and    the    calls    continue   or    the                                                               
person/organization  can't send  the individual  a copy  of their                                                               
do-not-call  policy the  individual can  take them  to court.   A                                                               
parallel provision in state law would be useful, he said.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.   HARRIS    expressed   concern   with   the    elderly   and                                                               
[telemarketers].  However,  he related his belief  that the First                                                               
Amendment protects  the rights  of politicians  who want  to make                                                               
these calls.   He informed the committee that  people who solicit                                                               
money from  him via the  telephone generally don't  receive money                                                               
from  him permanently.   Mr.  Harris said  that he  believes this                                                               
legislation is necessary  because he doesn't want to  have to pay                                                               
for the black  dot next to his  name in the telephone  book.  Mr.                                                               
Harris  informed  the  committee   that  most  telemarketers  use                                                               
predictive  dialers  and  block  their  caller  id  as  does  he.                                                               
However,   he    suggested   that   this    legislation   require                                                               
telemarketers to unblock  their caller id so that there  is a way                                                               
to record  the number and  have it  traced [so that  the consumer                                                               
can]  keep  a  record  of  their  calls.    Mr.  Harris  directed                                                               
attention  to  a recent  Washington  Post  article in  which  Ms.                                                             
Manners noted her  support of a national  do-not-call list, which                                                               
the  Federal  Trade Commission  is  accepting  comments on  until                                                               
April  15th.    He  discussed how  the  device  that  disconnects                                                               
telemarketers works in more depth.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD informed  the committee  that there  are                                                               
over 16 local exchanges that  provide separate "black dot lists."                                                               
Many local exchanges  don't sell their "black dot  list" and thus                                                               
the telemarketer has to go through the telephone book.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2080                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  turned to Section  2 and inquired as  to why                                                               
business owners  weren't included in  this.  In other  words, why                                                               
was this  legislation limited  to residential  telephone numbers,                                                               
he asked.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
[HB 448 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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