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House committee sends telephone solicitation bill to floor

House committee sends telephone solicitation bill to floor

Mitch Coffman
February 7, 2013
February 7, 2013

Despite a negative recommendation from the state attorney general’s office, the House State Affairs Committee voted Thursday to send House Bill 55, which would allow an expansion of telemarketing, to the floor with a do-pass recommendation.

Brett DeLange testified on behalf of the attorney general’s office saying the legislation is a policy bill that decides how much or how little privacy Idahoans have in their home via telemarketing calls.

DeLange said the Do Not Call list in 2000 was created for a reason. “The list was created back in 2000 in response to an overwhelming desire of Idaho citizens to be left alone while they’re trying to eat dinner, they’re trying to do their homework, they’re trying to have family time.”

The bill would allow telephone companies to make solicitation calls to their existing customers. Jim Clark, a former legislator and now representing Frontier Communications, presented the bill to the committee. Clark says the bill aims to amend the existing law, passed in 2000, and would allow his company and those like it to call existing customers to inform them of new products.

The bill also includes a provision that if a soliciting business calls a current customer and the customer requests that he not be contacted again, there is a $500 fine for violating the request.

The 2000 bill Clark referenced, House Bill 144, created the Do Not Call list and had within it a provision for phone companies that said they couldn’t call existing customers.

According to Clark, Frontier is spending a lot of money to expand its business into high speed Internet, but is currently prohibited from calling its own customers to inform them of their product. “Telephone companies are simply asking to be able to contact their customers like any other commercial provider.”

Clark also said that Idaho is one of 39 states with some sort of telephone solicitation law. But Idaho is slightly different. “Idaho is the only state that singles out one industry that can do something, and House Bill 55 will take care of that problem.”

The committee debated and asked questions for nearly 50 minutes before agreeing unanimously to send it to the House floor for consideration.

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