May 11, 2005
Telecom legislation sleight of hand
Rep. Phil King is so intent on the passage of his consumer-hostile telecom legislation that he's hacked the legislative process to ensure its passage without debate in the Senate, where cooler heads might've prevailed and removed gotchas like the municipal broadband prohibition. King managed to attach his telecom bills (HB 789 and 3179) as an amendment to legisllation already approved in the Senate, a bill to extend the Public Utilities Commission, which is sure to pass on the final vote. The author of the PUC bill, Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), will fight the attempt; she says "it is my preference that sunset legislation remain clean of major policy shifts."
What's interesting is that when Jake Posey, special legal counsel to the Regulated Industries, appeared in King's place at the recent Community Internet Summit in Austin, he told frustrated and angry representatives of municipal Internet projects that they should look to the Senate to address their problems with the bill, since it had already passed the house. This amendment is an attempt to preclude that possibility. [Link]