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Proposal would add political robocalls to 'do-not-call' list

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A HTC smartphone (R) and an Apple iPhone are displayed for the photographer at a mobile phone shop in Taipei March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh
A HTC smartphone (R) and an Apple iPhone are displayed for the photographer at a mobile phone shop in Taipei March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

MADISON (wrn)  A new bill would add political robo-calls to the Do Not Call List and it would make it permanent for anyone to sign up.

Every election cycle, citizens are inundated by annoying, unsolicited political robocalls — inevitably during the most inopportune time, which made the message less persuasive. “People are bombarded by call after call simply because of the minimal cost that’s involved.”

A lead author of the Assembly bill (AB-96) Representative André Jacque (R-De Pere) says recorded political calls would be banned under this legislation, but live calls from the candidate or their campaign staff would be allowed. The current No Call law allows Wisconsinites to stop unwanted calls from telemarketers, although it exempts political campaigns, as well as charities, public opinion polls, preexisting business relationships, and government emergency calls (school districts and reverse 911).

Jacque says he doesn’t make robocalls. He’ll make a live phone call to constituents when the weather or time doesn’t allow him to go door-to-door. “When I try to call my constituents close to an election time, there’s a natural skepticism that it’s actually me on the other end of the line.”

Jacque says by making the Do Not Call list permanent, “we can ensure lasting coverage for frustrated families and individuals unsure of when they last signed up.” And he says, it would save taxpayers a lot of money by eliminating maintenance cost.

Last spring, a bipartisan team of legislators in both chambers introduced legislation (AB-96 and SB-97) to address those automated political phone calls leading up to election time. To date, the bill hasn’t received a public hearing in the Assembly, while the Senate bill unanimously passed the Senate Energy, Consumer Protection and Government Reform Committee — though it has yet to be scheduled for a vote by the entire Senate.

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