JEFFERSON CITY – Legislation is now on its way to the governor’s desk that would allow cell phone users to block unwanted telemarketing calls and text messages. Sponsored by state Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, the bill (HB 1549) was approved by the Missouri Senate Tuesday and now needs the governor’s signature to become law. Richardson said the bill will allow cellular phone users to add their numbers to Missouri’s No Call List.
The state’s existing No Call List currently applies to landlines only and has been a huge success with more than 1.8 million landlines registered. Richardson said the success of the list is impressive but that it is past time to modernize it to include cell phones, which the majority of Missourians use for their communications needs.
“Most Missourians use cell phones as part of their daily lives but our No Call List hasn’t moved into the 21st century to reflect that fact,” said Richardson. “We want to extend the protections we have given to landline users to all Missourians who own a phone. I’m thrilled to see my colleagues have overwhelmingly supported this idea and that it is now just a few steps away from becoming law.”
Richardson said the change will save approximately $25,000 annually by simplifying the process used by the Attorney General’s office to maintain the list. Currently, the office obtains numbers from the federal No Call List, which allows cell phones to be registered. The office then “scrubs” the registered cell phone numbers from the list. Richardson said the number of scrubbed cell phone numbers has exceeded 2 million in each of the last two years. According to the Attorney General’s office, the cost to remove the numbers in 2011 was approximately $25,000.
“This is something the people of Missouri clearly want and I am extremely pleased we are going to be able to give it to them this year,” said Richardson, who noted the Attorney General’s office has received more than 2,250 attempted registrations and complaints from cell phone users since the beginning of the year.
Richardson’s bill specifies the No Call List would not include telephone numbers primarily used for business or commercial purposes. It also would ban solicitations through faxes, graphic images, text messages and data communications.