By Abigail E Shaw, Columbia Missourian
Missouri’s no-call list laws could could become more strict under a new bill that would increase fines for those who knowingly call individuals registered under the no-call list.
House Bill 523, which was heard before the General Laws committee Wednesday night, would increase current penalties by up to $5,000 per violation.
The bill would create a minimum fine, with increasing severity for each following violation, as follows:
First offense: Minimum of $2,500 and maximum of $5,000.
Second offense: Minimum of $5,000 and maximum of $10,000.
Third offense: Minimum $7,500 and maximum of $15,000.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill, said the idea for the bill came after hearing a complaint from a constituent about the number of cold calls she received despite being on the no-call list. While the companies would receive fines, they didn’t seem to be deterred from making more calls, he said.
“Whatever they were making in sales far outweighed the fines we were giving them,” Roden said.
The new bill would also create a potential for up to $100 in restitution awarded to those who report a violation that leads to a successful prosecution. Roden says this would incentivize people to file complaints. From 2016 to 2017, there was a 10,000 complaint decrease, which Roden attributes to frustration.
“We saw the frustration from individuals going through the headache of calling and then never hearing back,” Roden said.
Roden says the bill is intended to punish companies that knowingly and deliberately violate Missouri’s no-call laws. Small “mom and pop shops” likely don’t have access to the list or know about the laws, compared to large companies that break the law due to indifference, Roden says.
A similar bill, also sponsored by Roden, passed in the House last yearbut was never heard in the Senate.