Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Evansville Courier & Press editorial on saving Do Not Call

In its editions from Friday, March 18, the Evansville Courier & Press had an editorial (registration required) supporting efforts at protecting Indiana's do not call law:

Do Not Call
The Issue: Banking group wants feds to overrule Indiana law. Our View: Don't mess with the no-call list.

March 18, 2005

Indiana's do-not-call list, a consumer protection tool immensely popular with Hoosiers, is under challenge in Washington. The Consumer Bankers Association wants the Federal Communications Commission to grant it an end run around the Indiana law.

But in our view, and no doubt the view of millions of Hoosiers, this is a case where the federal government has no justification to meddle in state affairs.

The association, a national trade organization whose members include several banks doing business in Indiana, wants the FCC to hold that a weaker federal no-call law enacted in 2003 supersedes Indiana's own law passed two years earlier.

If that happened, telemarketers would be allowed to call people they have done business with during the previous 18 months, even if their names appear on the no-call registry. No such provisions are allowed under the Indiana law.

Indiana Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, who have joined the fight against the bankers' request, point out that federal law should only supersede state law in interstate commerce matters when it is clear that doing so is the intent of Congress. There is no such clear understanding.

We are even more bothered by the organization's argument that it wants to comply with one set of rules, nationwide, instead of differing rules set by multiple states.

To that, we would ask, what is wrong with states having different laws governing such areas as consumer protection? This is the very essence of states' rights. There is no overriding consideration compelling enough to trump those rights.

What is on the line is the desire of Hoosiers to enjoy some protection from annoying and unnecessary telephone calls at home. Indeed, more than 3 million Indiana residents have embraced the protection of their state law. It does include exemptions, such as for newspapers. tax-exempt charities, real estate agents and insurers.

If Hoosiers want to allow more exemptions, they can take it up with the state Legislature, not with bureaucrats in Washington.

In the meantime, Indiana lawmakers are making an effort to send a message to the bankers. In addition to the efforts of Bayh and Lugar, state lawmakers have drafted legislation to prohibit violators of the Indiana law from doing business with the state, reports .

State Sen. Greg Server, R-Evansville, called it a "back at ya'" to the banks.

According to the AP, because of the issue, three banks headquartered in Indiana have disassociated themselves from the group's FCC petition, and one has severed its membership.

They got the message: Don't mess with Indiana's no-call list.