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Bill would end political robocalls

By Paul B. Johnson, High Point Enterprise

Fed up with getting those obnoxious and incessant political robocalls during election seasons? One congressional representative from the Piedmont understands your pain.

But don’t bet the house on her bill passing, which would prohibit automated political calls from candidates and campaigns.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, recently introduced House Resolution 827, the Robo Calls Off Phones Act or Robo COP Act. The bill would expand the list of unsolicited calls restricted by the national Do Not Call Registry to include political robocalls.

“Every campaign season, like clockwork, families are bombarded by an endless stream of political robocalls. Removing that exemption through the Robo COP Act is a matter of fairness,” said Foxx, whose district includes parts of northern Davidson County.

Under the bill, the Federal Trade Commission would revise its regulations to prohibit candidates or campaigns from dialing numbers on the registry with pre-recorded campaign pitches.

Given the reaction from Foxx’s colleagues when the bill was introduced in previous sessions of Congress, the legislation probably won’t speed through the House.

The six-term congresswoman has filed the legislation in each session since she was elected, but it has never received committee consideration. The bill has been introduced when both Republicans and Democrats controlled the House.

The greatest number of cosponsors that her robocall ban bill drew was 19 during the 110th session of Congress last decade, said Sheridan Watson, Foxx’s communications director.

State Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, has introduced similar legislation dating back to last decade in the N.C. General Assembly. But like Foxx’s congressional proposal, Harrison’s bill to prohibit political robocalls in North Carolina has gone nowhere.

“It’s gotten no support from both Democrats and Republicans,” said Harrison, who has introduced her bill when each party controlled the General Assembly.

Harrison told The High Point Enterprise that she believes elected officials are intimidated by political consultants to not ban political robocalls, despite widespread voter disgust with the practice.

Harrison, part of the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and Foxx, a stalwart of the more conservative wing of the Republican Party, don’t agree on many issues. But Harrison said she commends Foxx for highlighting political robocalls.

“It’s something my constituents tell me they are tired of getting during election seasons,” Harrison said.

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