Political campaigns could be prohibited from using anonymous robo-calls for or against election candidates and ballot measures in South Dakota under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a state House of Representatives panel.
Members of the State Affairs Committee amended the ban onto another piece of campaign-related legislation. They voted 12-1 for the final version. The measure, SB 200, heads to the full House of Representatives for action possibly as early as Monday afternoon.
House Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton offered the restriction on campaign robo-calls. He said some states are banning them altogether or enforcing political no-call lists.
The calls would be allowed if they met requirements such as a live operator, identifying the funding group and asking the person answering the call whether she or he wants to hear the message.
“I think we’re probably doing the political world a favor because I can’t imagine these things are very effective,” Hunhoff said.
Rep. Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, said the amendment’s language was too broad and South Dakota doesn’t have the ability to restrict someone outside South Dakota.
“This law wouldn’t apply to those people because they’re in a different state,” Hansen said.
Hansen agreed the robo-calls are annoying but it restricts a specific type of political communication. He said it’s appropriate to know who’s making the communication and paying for it.
Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, said the amendment is written in a way that would work. He said it seems 99 percent of the public doesn’t like receiving the robo-calls.
“I think it would be a good service, let alone for us, but for the citizens of the state,” Verchio said.
Hunhoff said the intent is limited to candidates and ballot issues but doesn’t want to affect town-hall meetings conducted by teleconference.
Rep. Scott Parsley, D-Madison, said the limits contemplated by Hunhoff’s amendment would fall in line with the process already used for the town-hall teleconferences. He said a company could sue South Dakota.