July 17, 2005

Texas House approves telecom bill; TML stops opposition - deadline is Wednesday

The Texas House passed SB21 today. The version that went to the house said nothing about municipal broadband, except to allow BPL. Today, there were two amendments proposed by Rep. King and adopted. We missed the webcast, and will update when we find out what they were..

There were several amendments, none of which contained a municipal broadband ban.
* An amendment by Hartnett allowed complaints about BPL interference to be put to the Texas PUC, not just the Federal Communications Commission.
* An amendment by Rep King raises the criteria for "lifeline" service to 150% of the poverty level, and an amendment by Turner includes callerID as part of price-regulated basic service for senior citizens (that price cap ends in September 2007)

So, no limitations on municipal broadband in Texas.

The bill passed after the Texas Municipal League -- the lobby group for Texas cities -- withdrew their opposition ot the bill, according to the Quorum Report.

But it's not clear whether telecom will get through the calendar. The main issue, school finance, is flying on empty, according to leading Senate negotiator Steve Ogden. Lt. Gov Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, has promised not to pass other legislation unless school finance passes.

Because of the amendments, the telecom bill would need a conference committee to approve. The session ends Wednesday, and the clock is tickinng.

Posted by alevin at July 17, 2005 06:42 PM