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3.16.23 – WBAL-TV

Anyone who has a phone could arguably consider Senate Bill 90 one of the most popular bills under consideration in Session 2023.

The Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023 would prohibit telephone solicitations that always seem to come at the worst time.

“I think we are absolutely at a point where the spam calls are just getting overwhelming and shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen,” said Jack Fitts. “I try to run a business on my phone all the time, and (I’m) wasting a lot of time avoiding, (spending) more time avoiding those calls than anything else.”

“They all seem to call at the worst times — dinner time in the evening. I do feel sorry for the people on the other end of the phone because they are just getting paid hourly, but I do hate getting those calls,” said Jackie Hennesy.

Now, for the first time, Maryland state lawmakers are close to doing something about the calls. The bill unanimously passed the House, and the Senate is expected to follow suit this week. The bill is so popular, the Senate put a final vote on hold until the names of 19 other lawmakers can be added as co-sponsors.

“Who among us does not hate spam calls? I guarantee you, your constituents back home hate spam calls,” the bill’s sponsor, Montgomery County Sen. Ben Kramer, D-District 19, told his fellow lawmakers. “The bill before you establishes consumer protections relating to telephone solicitations.”

The protections include banning calls generated from an automated system that selects phone numbers. The bill would prohibit playing a recorded message when the call is connected. And, the calls can’t be made between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. or more than three times during hours after that.

“I would be delighted if there was legislation prohibiting those calls,” said Letitia Burton.

Baltimore County Sen. Charles Sydnor, D-District 44, said charitable solicitations are not affected and they can continue making calls. Other exemptions include religious, political and educational purposes or business-to-business sales.

Some consumers would like the bill to go even further.

“The thing that annoys me more than the phone calls is the text messages,” said Jennifer Fitts. “So, I get a lot of spam texts also, and (when) you put spam on it, you still get them more often. I feel like, get rid of them both.”

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Division will investigate and enforce the law. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would be subject to a $1,000 fine. Subsequent convictions would carry a $5,000 fine