Five days after his fax machine was deluged with messages urging him to veto a bill banning unsolicited facsimile messages, an annoyed Gov. William A. O'Neill signed the measure into law.
A similar campaign in Maryland may lead that state's governor to do the same, an aide said.At least eight states have considered such measures.
Proponents complain that such messages tie up fax machines for a minute a page and use up expensive special paper. The machines often are left hooked to telephone lines 24 hours a day.
O'Neill this week lashed out at the California-based organization that generated the unsolicited messages, tying up the machine while his office was awaiting word on flood conditions from the state Office of Emergency Management.
"I had been following discussion about the legislation, but frankly, last week was the first time the need for this kind of legislation was brought home to me," he said in a message issued with the announcement of the signing.
The new law allows people receiving unsolicited facsimile machine messages to seek up to $200 in damages.
The National Fax Users Committee, based in Mission Viejo, Calif., had told the governor in its messages that it could cost the average company $6,000 a year in telephone bills to seek permission to send fax messages.
Maryland Gov. William Donald Scaefer's office received 343 fax messages Thursday after the National Fax Users Committee faxed hundreds of one-page protest fliers to Maryland businesses to relay to him.
"If we had any important messages coming in we wouldn't have been able to get them through," said David S. Iannucci, the governor's lobbyist.
Businesses were urged to sign a protest message on the flier, tear the message off and fax it to the Statehouse.
About one-fifth of the businesses receiving the message sent it on to the governor, Ianucci said.
Iannucci called the one-day campaign "incredibly counterproductive," saying it might help persuade Schaefer to sign the bill.
One executive sent his flier with an added message, asking Schaefer to sign the bill into law and stop people "from using my fax machine as their printing press."
The Maryland bill would impose a fine of up to $1,000 on anyone attempting to fax messages to sell goods, services or real estate unless the receiver had given prior permission or a previous business relationship existed between sender and receiver.