If Montana officials want to maintain the state law banning robocalls, they ought to find a way to enforce it.
Officials with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office said last week that they had received several complaints from citizens who received automated phone calls playing a recorded message from an out-of-state group promoting a congressional candidate. Similar calls have been made for state and presidential candidates in recent years.
Though these types of calls are illegal in Montana, the commissioner’s office isn’t able to do anything about them. Enforcement is typically left to local law enforcement, which gets complicated when the calls are dialed from or received in multiple jurisdictions.
And even when prosecution is successful, the maximum penalty is only $2,500, which means anyone can illegally influence thousands of Montana voters for a nominal fee.
In the past, the political practices commissioner has tried and failed to gain the authority to prosecute those who make robocalls on behalf of candidates.
Considering the widespread abuse of Montana’s automated telephone solicitation law, maybe it’s time to give that proposal another look.
Though it should have happened years ago, we were glad to see the Montana Legislature back a measure that will give residents the option to buy a driver’s license or identification card that complies with the federal Real ID Act.
Citing security and privacy concerns, Montana politicians have resisted the federal government’s demands to comply with the anti-terrorism law ever since it was passed in 2005. In 2007, the state Legislature even passed a bill that made implementation of Real ID illegal in Montana.
Not all Montanans shared those concerns, however. And the state’s defiance meant that state-issued driver’s licenses would not be accepted at federal facilities and airports.
However, Senate Bill 366, sponsored by Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, addresses the fears of those who are concerned about Real ID without further punishing those who are not.
That’s the kind of common sense solution Montanans need.