Steamboat Springs Freshman State Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, played a role in protecting Coloradans from unwanted telephone solicitations this legislative session.
Ironically, he would have preferred to wait and attempt to pass a more stringent bill in the next legislative session. However, he heard loudly and clearly from his constituents that they wanted the Legislature to approve a "Tele-marketing No-Call List" bill sooner than later.
"I was trying to give the people what they wanted," White said. "The hue and cry was astronomical."
House Bill 1405, sponsored by White and State Sen. Ken Chlouber, R-Leadville, passed Wednesday, the final day of the regular legislative session.
Under the bill, Colorado residents will be able to sign up online or over the telephone for the Colorado No-Call List. Commercial telemarketing companies who call people listed on the state's roster could face fines of up to $2,000 per violation.
White said he doesn't think the bill goes far enough, and he actually voted against it in its original form as Senate Bill 93. However, he heard from constituents that they didn't want to wait for a stricter bill.
Some of the loopholes in the bill have actually been established by U.S. Supreme Court rulings, White said. The First Amendment protection of free speech means Colorado cannot prohibit political organizations and nonprofit organizations from making telephone solicitations.
White said he would have liked to have seen the bill include a "business-to-business preclusion" that would have protected small-business people who work from home.
"I've heard from a lot of people who have said they work at home and are constantly pestered by sales people on the telephone. They can't get their work done. They tell me, 'I can't not answer the phone.'"
White said he was also interested in barring junk faxes on behalf of home-based businesses. He said he has one constituent whose fax machine went off in the middle of the night, startling her so badly it set off a severe asthma attack. The fax was a sales solicitation.
White said he backed off on his resolve to hold out for a stronger bill and went to the speaker of the house in order to get permission to sponsor the final telemarketing measure as a late bill.
The final vote in the House was 47-18 in favor. In the Senate, it was 31-4 in support. Gov. Bill Owens has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.