By Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor
Editor’s note: Welcome to the newest periodic feature of WC&P. Here, readers can find the latest updates of information from state and regional WQA associations around the United States as well as the Canadian WQA. Occasionally, we may venture into other regional associations as well, such as well drillers, plumbers, etc.
Water treatment businesses in Minnesota and Wisconsin that conduct phone solicitations to gain new customers will be affected by “do not call” laws that went into effect on Jan. 1. The new laws allow consumers who don’t want to be contacted by telemarketers to register their phone numbers on a “do not call” list. The laws in both states require businesses that use telemarketing to register with the state and pay a fee to obtain the state’s “do not call” list, which includes phone numbers of consumers who don’t accept telemarketing calls. Phone solicitors contacting customers are required to purchase an updated list every four months and remove those phone numbers from their databases.
Minnesota phone solicitors must purchase a “do not call” list, which is available for $125 per quarter from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Callers must identify themselves clearly at the beginning of the call and provide their telephone number, if requested. Callers cannot use any method to block the subscriber’s caller ID service. In addition, the “do not call” list information cannot be used for any other purposes, nor can it be sold.
A spokesperson for the Department of Commerce indicated the exemption in the law regarding completing a sale in the home only applies to calling a current customer or a potential customer who gave permission to call. Minnesota dealers who solicit business over the phone are urged to contact the department or their own legal advisor regarding what’s legal and what’s not. Failure to follow terms of the “do not call” law may lead to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each solicitation. To view the entire telemarketing bill online, visit the Department of Commerce website at www.commerce.state. mn.us and follow the link to “do not call info.”
In neighboring Wisconsin, telemarketers must register annually with the Department of Trade and Consumer protection. The annual registration fee is $700 for the first year and $500 for each following year. There’s also a supplementary annual fee of $75 for each telephone line used if the company uses more than four lines. Quarterly “no call” lists will be sent to companies registered with the department and must be updated by the solicitor.
Companies with headquarters not in Wisconsin, but that solicit business in the state, must also register with the department. It has a downloadable telemarketer application form available on its website (see www.wqaw.com). A tele-marketer application packet is available from the department as well by emailing winocall@datcp. state.wi.us. Businesses that unlawfully call numbers on the Wisconsin “no call” list will be subject to a maximum penalty of $100 per violation. Wisconsin’s telemarketing bill can also be viewed online at www.nocall.wisconsin. gov. In addition, a number of questions regarding compliance with the new law are answered on the site.
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft signed an executive order mandating each state agency involved in awarding contracts require contractors on state-administered projects be enrolled in the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (OBWC) Drug Free Workplace Program. As of Jan. 1, contractors may submit bids without previously being enrolled in the program; however, contractors must be enroll in a program certified by OBWC within 10 days of the bid opening.
To comply with the executive order, contractors must:
- Complete an application to the OBWC,
- Have a written substance abuse policy,
- Implement substance testing,
- Provide assistance for all employees, and
- Provide drug and alcohol education awareness.