Please email or call you Senator and ask for a vote against HB 699, misnamed "the Competitive Cable and Video Services Act."
The easiest way to get the necessary information to do so is to Look Up Your District on the legislature's search page. Then ask your friends to do the same.
It so clearly deserves defeat that it is embarrasing that our legislature is considering it. A quick set of talking points:
- It is an uncalled-for intrusion of State Government into local affairs.
- It amounts to a "taking" of local right-of-way property by the state and transferring those rights to, mainly, BellSouth.
- It's chief purpose is to remove the rights of local governments to insist that ALL its citizen's be offered service for the same price. HB 699 specifically forbids local governments from insisting on this in contracts to use the public's rights of way. It legalizes redlining out "low-value" customers and will increase the digital divide.
- Language in the bill, which BellSouth refuses to remove, will allow it, and AT&T when the current sale goes through, to exempt its cable service from paying ANY fees to local governments. This fees are substantial and losing them would inevitably mean raising local taxes.
- The bill unconstitutionally allows Cable companies to break their otherwise legal contracts with local governments. The end result will be to further impoverish local governments.
- BellSouth, and AT&T who is purchasing BellSouth, are frankly not to be trusted. The history of their opposing the Lafayette's decision to build its own competing system--voted in finally 62 to 28%--was ugly and included deliberate deception. The current legal battles to prevent the will of the people from being carried out only demonstrates further how driven they are by pure self-interest. New Orleans' post-Katrina wi-fi system met a very similar style of opposition. The interest of communities in Louisiana and the interest of huge telecommunications monopolies are not the same and our legislators should be encouraged to vote in their constituents interests, not the interests of a single company that would rather change the rules than play by them.