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Senators hear debate on fines for violations of do-not-call list

The lawmaker who first proposed Wisconsin's do-not-call list says the $100 fine for violators is nothing to a large telemarketing firm.

And that's why Sen. Jon Erpenbach of D-Waunakee wants to raise the penalty to at least $1,000, and up to $10,000 for the worst violators.

A Senate committee held a public hearing on his bill Wednesday.

Erpenbach said it would send a message that violators would have a "pretty stiff price to pay."

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin said it's like moving from a slap on the wrist to a sledgehammer. And she wanted judges to be able to give small fines to "a small business doing a minimum offense."

The bill would give the state's consumer protection agency discretion in seeking punishment.

And the agency's Michelle Reinen says the state won't necessarily take all violators to court. She said marketers with no previous history could get warning letters, or cease and desist orders.

In Reinen's words, "We don't go straight for the money."

About 1.7 million households are on Wisconsin's do-not-call list, along with 670,000 cell phones.

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