From the Office of State Senator John Carona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 1998
CONTACT: John Krueger, 512/463-0116

SENATOR JOHN CARONA PRE-FILES LEGISLATION TO COMBAT CRAMMING

(AUSTIN)--State Senator JOHN CARONA (R-Dallas) today pre-filed SB 47 to impose penalties for companies in Texas that charge phone customers for unauthorized products or services. This practice is commonly referred to as cramming. Senator Carona stated, Cramming has become an epidemic in this state, and the Legislature has a duty to carefully address this issue next session.

SB 47 would provide necessary authority to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), the state agency which regulates telecommunications providers in Texas, to discourage this practice. By threatening crammers with stiff fines and loss of their operating license, my bill would send a strong message that we will not tolerate companies preying on Texas phone users, Senator Carona remarked.

In addition to the cramming legislation, Senator Carona also filed SJR 8 and SB 48 to provide the State Finance Commission authority to interpret the Texas Constitutional provisions allowing home equity lending in Texas. Currently, no agency in Texas has the authority to interpret questions which arise regarding the home equity provisions in the state Constitution, Senator Carona explained, My legislation provides authority to the Finance Commission to answer these questions which will maintain the critical consumer safeguards and allow consumers full access to home equity lending.

Senator Carona also pre-filed SB 46 to make the growing crime of identity theft a criminal offense in Texas. While there are adequate punishments in the state Penal Code for crimes of theft and fraud, there are no protections or restitution for the victims of identity theft crimes, Senator Carona said. SB 46 defines the crime of identity theft and provides clear penalties for that crime, including full restitution to the victim.

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