Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Bills would clear LUS’ way"

The Advocate picks up on the story of the three bills (1) (2) (3) that would repeal or radically modify the Local Government Fair Competition Act. The reporter does a good job of getting to fundamental points and stating them clearly. To wit:
House Bill 245 would repeal the Fair Competition Act in its entirety.

Should that happen, there would be no government-provider specific rules in existence -- and the very laws that were the basis of BellSouth's lawsuit and a subsequent 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against LUS would go away...

House Bill 257 would exempt from the Fair Competition Act governments that conducted a feasibility study or received voter approval to enter the telecommunications business before Aug. 15, 2005.

That exemption would presumably apply to Lafayette, where voters approved funding for the LUS telecommunications business in July 2005...

The third measure, House Bill 244, would hold private communications providers that receive some type of funding from federal, state or local government to comply with some of the same provisions of the Fair Competition Act as government-run communications businesses.
Of special interest are quotes from the man who introduced the bill, Joel Robideaux:
"What was represented at the negotiations didn't necessarily play out that way," Robideaux said.
That's a indirect, diplomatic restating of what LUS and Lafayette's allies have repeatedly said: BellSouth and Cox made compromises they are not honoring. A major impetus behind repeal is that Cox and especially BellSouth are felt to have betrayed the agreements they made, invalidating the deal and legitimating repeal.

The article is well-organized and very readable; I recommend you go take a slow read for it...there's going to be a lot more to this game and getting a good grip on what pieces are on the board will help help in keeping track of the maneuvering.

The story closes nicely:
Robideaux said he did not know whether any private communications company receives any government subsidies, but if it does, it should be willing to subject itself to the same rules private providers follow.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander," Robideaux said.
I think that final clause in the first paragraph above should read: "it should be willing to subject itself to the same rules private public providers follow." BellSouth, of course, receives massive subsidies still (the universal service fund which subsidizes rural service being but one example and tax exemptions for our local Cingular call center being another)--and built the network it clutches so tightly to its chest on the back of a regulated monopoly.

Joe Robideaux deserves to be congratulated for stepping up to the plate. I understand from coffee-house scuttlebut (thanks Mike) that Mike Michot will be the tip of the spear for repeal in the Senate. Cheers should go his way as well.

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