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          Front Page


March 22, 2003



Legislature Approves Do-Not-Call Bill



   
   
By Susan Montoya Bryan
The Associated Press
    SANTA FE   —   New Mexicans could put their names on a state do-not-call list to avoid telemarketers under a measure sent to Gov. Bill Richardson.
    Under the bill, the state registry also would include people who were on a national do-not-call list planned by the Federal Trade Commission.
    "This is merely a state statute that piggybacks on to federal regulations," Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, said referring to the FTC list.
    The bill cleared the Legislature late Friday when the Senate voted 31-11 to accept a House-passed version of the measure. The proposal allows some groups to continuing calling New Mexicans.
    Telemarketers   —   except for real estate agents, political candidates, public opinion pollsters and businesses that had pre-existing relationships with those on the list, such as a person's dentist   —   would be prohibited from calling.
    The state's do-not-call measure would be more restrictive than the FTC list. The federal rules, for example, don't bar calls from financial institutions or telephone or insurance companies.
    Opponents contend the measure would hurt New Mexico businesses.
    "I have to say that a person who lives in a house or apartment would have to be in favor of this," said Rep. Eric Youngberg, R-Corrales. "But for a business owner, this bill goes to far."
    Opponents also said it was hypocritical to ban telemarketing calls when the state has thousands of people employed by companies that make such calls.
    "I project that if this law goes into effect we're going to lose a lot of jobs," said Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe.
    Park argued that many of the state's call centers take incoming calls rather than calling customers. He added that telemarketers will still have to abide by federal no-call regulations.
    The state attorney general's office would keep the state registry   —   which would be updated quarterly   —   and oversee enforcement.
    Companies that made calls to consumers registered on the do-not-call list could face misdemeanor charges. Consumers also could sue telemarketers who call and could be awarded $500 per violation.