FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Missouri's attorney general offered some neighborly advice Wednesday: Kentucky should strictly regulate telemarketers or risk becoming a favorite target.
As more states enact tough laws against telephone solicitors, the industry will turn more attention to states without strict regulations, said Jay Nixon, the attorney general and a national leader on the issue.
"I'm sure that if Kentucky doesn't pass a strong law this year, the reward your constituents will get is a bunch more phone calls," Nixon told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Nixon's testimony came as the committee reviewed legislation to strengthen Kentucky's own telemarketing law.
That law is riddled with so many exemptions that consumer activists say it's ineffective.
At Nixon's side was Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler, who advocates tougher telemarketing regulations, but whose personal involvement has polarized some legislators. Chandler's comments were limited to introducing Nixon.
Nixon told the committee that states should not wait for federal action to shield people from unwanted telemarketing calls that interrupt meals or other family time.
A national no-call list proposed by the Federal Trade Commission would not offer blanket protection because it wouldn't regulate telemarketing calls made within states, Nixon said.
He said his own state's law has been effective in regulating telemarketing calls both inside and outside Missouri.
"I don't hold a lot of expectation or faith that the folks in Washington are going to solve telemarketing problems in rural Missouri for us," Nixon said.
Nixon also raised doubts about the FTC's ability to enforce a national no-call list. "I just don't think the FTC has looked at the enforcement side with the same level of detail as they have the sign-up side," he said. "That does raise some concerns."
An FTC representative testified to the same Senate committee last week.The panel was told that people could have their phone numbers placed on a no-call list, and telemarketers would be barred from calling.
The rule would apply broadly with a few exceptions for industries regulated by other federal agencies, such as financial institutions.