May 16, 2005

HB789 hearing in Senate Business and Commerce Committee -- municipal network ban is GONE from the Senate Committee Substitute

May 17 update: This issue is being widely mis-reported. The threat is not over. The ban remains in the House version of the bill, and the Senate version has not yet passed out of committee. We had a great day yesterday, and we are making progress, but at this moment muni networks remain threatened in Texas.

HB789 was heard this morning in the Senate Business and Commerce committee. The commitee substitute was based on Chairman Fraser's earlier SB332, which imposes tests for suburban and rural markets before deregulating.

Chairman Fraser's committee substitute did NOT have any language about city-supported network services.

Four people testified with thanks for removing that section of the bill:
* Snapper Carr of the Texas Municipal League
* Robert Wood, City Manager of Flatonia
* Wayne Caswell
* Adina Levin,

Nobody testified in favor of adding the provision back.

Thanks again to Chairman Fraser for listening to his constituents in Belton, and other communities, in continuing the current policy of local control over the decision to provide high-speed internet infrastructure.

There is some chance the provision will be added back as an amendment on the Senate Floor. However, Senator Fraser seems less favorable to it, so it would face a much steeper battle than in the House, where Rep. King favored it.

The next steps for the bill are to be voted out of committee and be scheduled for the Senate floor. Once it is voted for the commitee, our next step will be communicating to the rest of the Senate, to help prevent a recurrence of the muni ban amendment.

Posted by alevin at May 16, 2005 12:22 PM