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AARP Survey Shows Most Missourians Want Telemarketers to Stay Away

April 29, 2002
By: Kathryn Handley
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -Seventy-six percent of Missourians support closing "no call" loopholes in telemarketing legislation, according to an AARP survey released Monday.

The loopholes include exemptions for telephone companies and credit card companies, who are allowed to call people who are on Missouri's no call list.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's office reports that 948,000 phone lines have been added to the no call list, representing nearly 2.5 million Missourians. According to the AARP release, 53 percent of those surveyed said they had received telemarketing calls from phone companies after signing up for the no call list.

Legislators proposed two bills this session aimed at getting rid of exemptions that allow businesses to call people on the no call list. But neither bill has gone far.

"It's the best bill filed all year," said bill sponsor Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles. "People want us to do this."

Bill sponsors Rep. Rick Johnson, D-High Ridge, and House, as well Nixon, blamed lobbyist pressure for killing the bills.

"The lobbyists will does speak pretty loudly over at the capitol," said Attorney General spokesman Scott Holste.

Southwestern Bell Corp. Spokesman Dave Baldridge said it is legislators, not lobbyists, who are stalling the bills.

"It's really a loophole in name only," he said. "Phone companies are already regulated by federal law."

Baldridge said the focus this year has been on transportation and the budget, leaving little time for telemarketing considerations.

The No Call program, headed by Nixon, has been in effect since July. Johnson said "throughout the process, the bill was basically gutted." There are "more exceptions than rules," he said.

Johnson and House said they were "frustrated," but both said they thought the loopholes would eventually be closed.

Johnson proposed a bill to close exemptions last year. He said he hopes this year his bill, which has not been referred to committee, will move ahead.

"A lot of things can happen in three weeks (before the legislature adjourns)," he said. "If not, I'll be back with it next year."