March 18, 2019

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Monthly TCPA Digest December 2018: Part II – TCPA Legislative Update

Congress Introduces Legislation Combatting Robocalls

Although the end of the year is in sight, Congress continues to work hard on legislation to combat robocalls. Last month, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED, Act. This legislation would allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy harsher penalties on marketers and scammers who use automatic dialing devices. The bill would allow callers to be fined $10,000 for each call they make intentionally violating telemarketing laws, an increase from the current $1,500 per call the law currently allows. The bill would also extend the statute of limitations under which the FCC could prosecute robocallers, increasing it from one year to three. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted his support for the bill saying he was pleased with the new enforcement power it would give the commission.

More recently, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Real Peace Act. This bill would end the exemptions that common carriers get from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an attempt to crack down on illegal robocalls. In late November, the FTC Commissioners testified before the Senate Commerce Committee. During the hearing, Chairman Simons discussed how the FTC and FCC work together to combat illegal robocalls. He also mentioned that eliminating the common carrier exemption would help the FTC in its efforts to combat these intrusive and disruptive calls.

While it is unlikely that either of these bills will be voted on before the end of Congress, both are likely to be introduced at the beginning of the next Congress. Lawmakers on both sides of the Hill and the aisle remain committed to combatting illegal robocalls and giving the agencies the tools they need to combat them effectively.

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About this Author

Alexander Hecht, Vice President of Government Relations, Mintz Levin law Firm
Vice President of Government Relations

Alex is Deputy Director of the Mintz Levin Center for Health Law & Policy. He is an attorney with more than 10 years of senior-level experience in Congress and trade associations.

Alex assists clients with their legislative and regulatory needs on a wide range of issues. Prior to joining ML Strategies, Alex served for over six years as chief counsel for Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) on the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. He was the lead policy counsel for Senator Snowe on health insurance market reform, individual and employer-based insurance,...

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Jennifer Kelly, Mintz Law Firm, Washington DC, Manager of Government Relations
Manager of Government Relations

Prior to joining ML Strategies, Jenny worked as a legislative assistant at a prominent international law firm. There she closely followed pieces of legislation related to criminal justice reform, cyber-security, transportation, and housing, in order to provide real-time updates to lobbyists and clients. Previously, Jenny worked as a legislative correspondent for U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) where she participated in lobbyist meetings and agency briefings, organized panel discussions, and assisted in composing floor speeches for the Senator.

Jenny recently graduated with her Masters in Congressional and Presidential Studies from the Catholic University of America. During her time at Catholic, Jenny was named a Bryce Harlow Fellow, a prestigious award for students who pursue careers in professional advocacy. As an undergraduate, Jenny was a University Scholar and was awarded both the Diane Jones Meier Award and the Fowler Award for Leadership for her work in the political science department. She served as a policy intern for U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) and as a library intern for the U.S. Secretary of the Senate.

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