Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lawmakers kill cell phone robo-call bill

By staff and news reports

Rep. Lee Terry got the hint. The robo-calls bill is dead.a

The bill sponsored by Terry, R-Neb., (H.R. 3035) would have allowed “robo-calls” to your cell phone — even if you didn’t give a company permission to contact you at that number. a

Consumer groups made a lot of noise in the hope that Congress would kill the bill. They call it a dangerous proposal that could lead to more nuisance calls.a

Supporters of the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011” include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Air Transport Association, as well as groups that represent bankers, mortgage lenders, college loan programs and debt collectors. a

On Wednesday, Terry and bill co-sponsor Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y., sent a letter to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asking that the legislation not be advanced.a

Last week, attorneys general in 48 of the 50 states sent their own letter to Congress opposing the legislation.a

In a blog post published Tuesday, Delicia Reynolds, legislative director for the National Association of Consumer Advocates, warned that the legislation would "open up cell phones to unwanted and nuisance calls.” A poll on found that out of 60,000 votes cast, 99.5 percent opposed the bill.a

"We swung and missed," Charles Isom, communications director for Rep. Terry, told "There was no clear way forward with this bill."a

Here is the letter sent to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton:a

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you and Chairman Walden, for allowing the hearing to occur on the merits of HR 3035. The hearing really helped to bring to our attention the issue of out of date telecommunications policy and how we need to begin to modernize current law. a

However, what we have learned is there is no hope for this legislation. We have heard from our constituents. They are concerned about what they believe will happen should this legislation become law. We have convened meetings with numerous consumer groups, as well as other organizations who have an interest in the legislation, but we have been unable to reach any kind of consensus on language that bans unwanted cell phone calls, while allowing calls that are consented to.a

In an attempt to thread the needle and address the issues that have been brought before us, it is clear that this bill cannot be improved in a manner that will address the concerns of those involved. Therefore, we ask that HR 3035 not be advanced by the committee.a

Thank you in advance for your consideration.a

Sincerely,Lee TerryEdolphus "Ed" Townsa's Al Olson and Herb Weisbaum and Nebraska's ETV Newswatch 7 contributed to this report. a


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