Governor signs no-call bill


Tired of those telemarketers who interrupt your dinner or favorite TV show with unwanted sales pitches?

Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Monday signed a bill that could offer some relief by restoring the state's enforcement of the Do Not Call Registry.

At the signing ceremony, Kulongoski and Attorney General Hardy Myers touted the no-call list bill as one of a series of pro-consumer bills that have been approved by lawmakers this year after languishing in recent legislative sessions.

The no-call program allows phone customers to sign up with a federal registry telling telemarketers not to call them. But the program hasn't been enforced in Oregon in recent years because of a gap between state and federal laws.

Oregon's initial program ran from 2000 to 2003, when the federal registry began, effectively pre-empting Oregon's program. More than 1.68 million Oregon phone lines are included in the no-call registry.

Myers tried unsuccessfully in the 2003 and 2005 legislative sessions to win passage of a bill that would have avoided a federal pre-emption and allowed the state to invoke its Unfair Trade Practices Act to go after violators.

Under existing law, the attorney general can sue in federal court under the federal law, but the costs are high and the law does not provide for recovery of enforcement costs, Myers noted.

The bill allows the attorney general to take lawbreaking telemarketers to state court. It's a sizable problem &

Oregon residents filed 15,000 no-call complaints with the federal government in 2006, Myers said.

"The choice to enter the no-call program becomes real again, because we now will have the ability to enforce our law," the attorney general said.

Kulongoski, meanwhile, noted that the no-call bill and other consumer protection bills &

such as one to crack down on price gouging in emergencies &

have been pending for years in the Legislature. But they passed this year because the Democrats are in control of both chambers after recapturing the House from Republicans in the 2006 election.

"You have this pent-up pressure to do these things that should have been done a long time ago," the Democratic governor said. "The reason we are here today is that you've got 31 (Democratic) votes in the House and 16 in the Senate."

Also Monday, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 863, which allows people in the no-call registry to have automated political calls blocked. Kulongoski is expected to sign the bill, which does not apply to political calls from a live person.

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