PUC applauds S.D. Senate action

PUC applauds S.D. Senate action The Public Utilities Commission applauds the action taken Feb. 5 by the state Senate to approve "Do Not Call" legislation by a vote of 32-3. Senate Bill 41 will help to protect South Dakota consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls and possible fraud.

"This bill will stem the tidal wave of telemarketing calls," said PUC Chairman Bob Sahr. "We appreciate the bipartisan support of Senate Republicans and Democrats alike."

PUC Vice Chairman Gary Hanson added, "Annoying telemarketers are beginning to contact people on their cell phones. This consumer protection legislation will help to stop those types of calls as well. It is an intrusion every time a telemarketer calls a person on their cell phone. The consumer ends up spending their own minutes to receive the call."

According to Sahr, " Senate Bill 41 is the right thing to do when you consider consumer privacy issues and the fraudulent nature of many telemarketing calls."

Both commissioners joined together in recognizing the efforts of Sen. McCracken of Rapid City for his leadership role in shepherding SB 41 through the Senate. "Sen. McCracken was a true champion for consumers throughout South Dakota," said Hanson. "He worked hard with the commission and other interest groups in developing a compromise package that satisfies everyone involved," added Sahr.

Senate Bill 41 gives authority to the PUC to establish a "Do Not Call" list. South Dakotans who do not want to be contacted by telemarketers can voluntarily register with the PUC to have their name and phone number added to a list. Telemarketing businesses in South Dakota will be required to purchase the "Do Not Call" list and refrain from calling those numbers included on the list. The consumer will pay a small sign-up fee, ranging from $0 to $5 when registering.

Businesses engaging in telemarketing will also pay a fee (up to $500) to obtain the "Do Not Call" list. If a telemarketer violates the conditions of the "Do Not Call" legislation, they may be fined $5,000 per occurrence. All fees and fines collected under the "Do Not Call" legislation will be used by the PUC to operate and maintain the "Do Not Call" register.

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for its approval. "We remain hopeful that the desire of South Dakotans will be heard and that the legislature will give them relief from telemarketing calls," said Sahr.

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