Thursday, March 17, 2005

Indiana Senate action roundup

The Indiana Senate's actions to protect Do Not Call from the bankers' assault is making news around Indiana.

From the Indianapolis Star:

Senators have issued a legislative ultimatum to banks: either follow Indiana's do-not-call law, or lose state business.

This stern message to the Consumer Bankers Association, which wants to opt out of the state law and follow the federal telephone privacy law, is contained in House Bill 1501.

Approved Thursday by the Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee, the bill would prohibit the state from contracting with any company that does not abide by the state's do-not-call list, which contains more than 1.6 million Hoosier phone numbers. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

"It's a back-at-ya to the banks for doing an end run on our no-call list," said Sen. Greg Server, R-Evansville, the sponsor of the amendment to the bill.

Attorney General Steve Carter's office, which is in charge of enforcing the state's telephone privacy law, is behind the amendment.

Carter and the bankers have been battling over telephone privacy since November, when the Consumer Bankers Association filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to opt out of the state's law. They argue that banks operating in different states need one uniform law, not a bunch of individual state laws -- and that only the federal government can regulate interstate commerce.

Carter said the proposal isn't any different than requiring companies with state contracts to maintain a drug-free workplace. "It's designed to protect the privacy of Hoosiers."


The federal law is less stringent than Indiana's because it allows businesses, and their affiliates, to call people on the list if they have done business with them in the past 18 months. Indiana doesn't have this exemption.

Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton, R-Columbus, called it "darn near unforgivable" that the banks would seek to circumvent this popular law.

"It has to be the dumbest PR move I've ever seen," he said.
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

State lawmakers have drafted legislation that would prohibit violators of Indiana’s “do-not-call” list from doing business with the state, a move prompted by banks trying to pre-empt Indiana’s telephone privacy statute with a federal law.

“It’s a ‘back at ya’ at the banks for trying to do an end-run to our no-call list ...,” state Sen. Gregory Server, R-Evansville, said Wednesday. His comments came a day after the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters amended the penalty provisions into a bill dealing with deceptive acts and sent it to the full Senate.

Server said the idea behind the legislation came from Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter’s office, which has been trying to get the Consumer Bankers Association to drop its efforts to get around Indiana’s no-call law.

The national trade group, whose members include several banks that do business in Indiana, has asked the Federal Communications Commission to rule that a federal no-call law enacted in 2003 supersedes an Indiana law enacted two years earlier.

The bankers group says the federal law has adequate protections for consumers. It wants to comply with one set of rules instead of those mandated by multiple state laws.

But Carter says the federal law is weaker than Indiana’s, in part because it allows companies to make telemarketing calls to people they have done business with during the previous 18 months, even if customers are on the federal no-call list. Indiana’s law has no such exemption.
Louisville Courier-Journal:
Indiana lawmakers are fighting back against banks that have asked the Federal Communications Commission to pre-empt the state's popular do-not-call list.

The state Senate could vote next week on a bill that would prohibit state government from doing business with any company that does not comply with Indiana's law, even if it complies with the federal do-not-call program.

House Bill 1501 could exclude noncompliant banks from millions -- even billions -- of dollars in state deposits, bonds and other transactions.

Attorney General Steve Carter said the issue is bigger than the banking sector.

"If the Indiana law is pre-empted, it will open it up to everybody that you have had business transactions with," Carter said.

That's because the federal list allows companies to call customers with whom they've previously done business. Indiana's law bans such contacts.

Sen. Greg Server, R-Evansville, said the measure before the Senate "is a 'back at you' to the banks for doing an end run on our no-call list."