The Mississippi Public Service Commission will be making a change to its no-call regulations that won’t put responsibility on telephone companies to stop the unwanted calls.
The three-member elected commission unanimously approved the amended rule at its monthly meeting Tuesday that will fully implement no-call legislation passed in 2019. The new rule removes language that required telephone companies to implement technologies designed to block unwanted calls that are in violation of the Anti-Spoofing Act.
In 2019, the Mississippi Legislature passed Senate Bill 2744, which was sponsored by then-state Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven. She is now the executive director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff, a separate body that works with and advises the commission.
The Caller ID Anti-Spoofing Act conformed state law to federal law and revised the penalties for violation of the state’s existing Telephone Solicitation Act in addition to including text messages as part of the existing solicitation act.
The PSC temporarily amended its regulations on June 11, 2019 to comply with the new law and sought comments before it entered the temporary rule as permanent on May 12, 2020.
The commission admitted in its filing from December 8, 2020 that it never filed the new regulations as required under the state’s Administrative Procedures Act with the secretary of state’s office and issued the final order after the temporary rule at expired.
Telecommunications providers — such as CSpire and AT&T — objected to the regulations because they said the commission had exceeded its powers by being required to implement technologies to identify and block calls and texts that violated the Anti-Spoofing Act.
Several of these telephone providers appealed the May 12 order in Jasper County Chancery Court.
The new regulation also provides for a fee schedule for charitable organizations wishing to register as a telephone solicitor and receive the no-call database from the PSC. Commercial solicitors must pay an annual fee of $1,000 for two contracted companies, with $500 for each additional contracted company.
If a charity’s annual contributions don’t exceed $25,000, the fee to receive the no-call list from the PSC is waived. If the charity’s yearly contributions are between $25,000 to $50,000, the fee is $500. If the organization’s contributions are between $50,000 to $100,000, the fee is $750.
Any charitable organization whose annual contributions exceed $100,000 will have to pay a $1,000 fee.