Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Local Government Fair Competition Act Dead...in North Carolina

Following a state-wide outcry North Carolina's version of the lobbyist-written "Local Government Fair Competition Act" died today according to a local report. (Previous LPF coverage: 1, 2, 3)

Opposition from the likes of North Carolina's Leauge of Municipalities, Google, Educause, Intel, Tropos, and user groups finally killed the embarrassing telecom-sponsored bill in the state that prides itself on having successfully courted high-tech in its widely admired "research triangle." The victory didin't come easy and the incumbent corporations enjoyed several successes before being derailed in the House finance committee. Louisiana's legislature, regular readers will recall, passed such a law and it has proved the bane of Lafayette's effort to build the network the citizens voted for every since by spawning seemingly endless lawsuits. In North Carolina legislators were helped to see the light by the disaster produced by the previous year's telecom -sponsored–a state-wide video franchise law. That made it a little harder to treat the earnest entreties of the incumbents as credible. (In Louisiana the ongoing mess produced by the Lousisiana Local Government Fair Competition Act was no doubt instrumental in inducing our governor to veto our state-wide video law when that giveaway was proposed here. You can fool some of the people...)

Congratulations are due to an aroused North Carolina citizenry. Only one thing trumps the money the incumbent corporations have to spread around at election time: the votes they had hoped to buy with it.

Louisiana needs to repeal it's own version of this odious (un)Fair Competition law. It puts stunningly unfair restraints on competition, restricts the people's rights to act in their own behalf, and has the now demonstrable effect of leaving local governments mired in legal battles that serve only to delay the expressed will of the people. It robbed the citizens of New Orleans of their municipal wifi system after the storm and came close to derailing Lafayette's project. It is not likely that any other municipality in the state will have the resources or the will to pursue serving their citizenry in this way until this law is repealed.

North Carolina shows the way.

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