Archive for Friday, February 15, 2013

Telecommunications deregulation bill gains first-round approval in Kansas House

February 15, 2013


— A bill that supporters said Friday would continue the deregulation of telecommunication companies in Kansas sailed through initial passage in the House with bi-partisan support.

House Bill 2201 advanced on a voice vote and will be considered for a final vote on Monday.

During the House Republican caucus meeting, Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, chair of the House Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, urged his colleagues to support the measure.

"This was an industry bill that they all worked very hard" to put together, Seiwert said.

The Republican bill brief said the measure was supported by a coalition of telecommunication companies "which puts legislators in an easier position of not having to `choose between friends.'"

Later, on the floor of the House, Rep. Annie Kuether of Topeka, who is the ranking Democrat on the Utilities and Telecommunications committee, also urged passage of the bill which was sought by AT&T; and other companies. The measure would reduce funding requirements of the Kansas Universal Service Fund, thus reducing consumer telephone bills.

But the bill was opposed by David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board.

Under the bill, the state's utility regulatory board, the Kansas Corporation Commission, no longer would be able to assist telecommunication customers when their phone service quality is unacceptable, Springe said.

Telecommunication companies would no longer be required to participate in the Kansas Lifeline Service Program, which provides discounts for basic telephone service for low-income Kansans.

"Ultimately, the changes proposed in this bill will disproportionately impact the more rural areas of Kansas, result in less service, potentially higher rates, potentially less Lifeline services and fewer consumer protections," Springe said.

Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, said, "We are not killing Lifeline. We are just not mandating it."


Centerville 5 years, 4 months ago

Anything to lower the USF is fine with me. That thing has turned into a slush fund for every crazy idea that the KCC can think of. Has certainly outlived its usefulness.

Centerville 5 years, 4 months ago

And go ahead an kill Lifeline. Total scam.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

What you really mean is that it doesn't benefit you, so you're against it. But killing it does fit in with the main Republican agenda-- class warfare.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

The ranking Democrat on the committee also urged passage of the bill.

Bipartisan class warfare?

Alyosha 5 years, 4 months ago

So TeleCom corporations want this bill — "This was an industry bill."

Do citizens want it? Do the areas that might no longer have access to LifeLine want this bill?

"We are not killing Lifeline. We are just not mandating it." What's wrong with mandating it? Mandating it is good public policy, especially for rural areas.

"The measure would reduce funding requirements of the Kansas Universal Service Fund, thus reducing consumer telephone bills."

Exactly how much money are we talking about saving the TeleComs here? Is the amount going to be passed on to consumers, or will the private corporations be taking some of the savings to increase their own profits?

One would do well to keep President Andrew Jackson's warning in mind: "...unless you become more watchful...and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given...away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations."

Given this instance, it seems we're already there, here in Kansas, with corporations bending the legislature to their will, for their own profits and needs, to the detriment of actual people.

repaste 5 years, 4 months ago

0% chance anyone will see reduction their bill!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

Everyone should watch this interview. The US has among the most expensive and lowest bandwidth internet service of all developed countries, and for no other reason than to protect the investments in old technology of vested corporate interests, and it's getting worse, not better.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.