More War on Local Government, Update to Proposed Legislation by the Virginia Cable Industry

On December 29th, I wrote about legislation being proposed by the cable industry which would curtail the efforts of localities to provide their own broadband.  That commentary can be found here. At that point in time, the parameters of the bill were unknown and no legislator had agreed to carry it.

Republican Delegate Kathy Bryon, who represents Virginia’s 22nd District has unfortunately agreed to do so.  This is completely frustrating from a local perspective where we have spent years trying to convince citizens in Caroline to vote for less government and free enterprise in a blue county.  Showing how these things work for the good of all, we have enjoyed great success of late. This kind of u-turn from our creed certainly isn’t helping.

I must have rattled a cage in the original post, however, because in an unusual move, the State Cable and Telecommunications Association asked and received permission to write a rebuttal on Bearing Drift which is disappointingly lame and essentially says they should be allowed to … because they say so.  They also indicate they have the right to become the de facto elected officials for each locality, safe guarding the citizen’s tax dollar.  In other words, they are just looking out for us.

Efforts to fight this fairly blatant government overreach and the considerable impacts can be found here.  In addition, the following letter is being sent to localities, their employees and other interested citizens so that the bill can be defeated.

Virginia’s Broadband Wars

Community Leaders Speak Out

Please make plans to join Friends of Municipal Broadband…

When:     Wednesday Jan. 18, 2017  9:30am

Where:    House Briefing Room – Virginia Legislative Office Building, 1000 Bank Street Richmond, VA 23219

(Note: Use Entrance on 10th and Bank Streets & leave time for security checks!)

Background: In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State Cable and Telecommunications Association (VCTA) has convinced Delegate Kathy Byron (R – Campbell County) to submit legislation to attempt to kill municipal broadband, and with it all of the jobs, economic development, educational advantages, and real estate value protection reliable high-speed service provides to Virginia citizens. Public and Private Sector Representatives from across the state, and across the aisle, we will use this event to publicly gather and share their perspective on why House Bill #2108 is so bad for Virginia’s future.

Comment can also be made on Richmond Sunlight

 

On this link commentator R. W. Spangler wrote:

“I see this as a blatant push to allow major large providers to charge above average prices for less than adequate services.

“Further, the following section provides them the ability to gain unpaid access to capital assets without equitable payment. They certainly would not provide similar access.

“… In providing communications services, a locality or its affiliate shall provide nondiscriminatory access to its poles, conduits, rights of way, dark fiber, and towers or other structures, to any private party offering any communications services within the locality, including, without limitation, collocation rights and access to leased fiber, unless the facilities of the locality or its affiliate have insufficient capacity for such access and additional capacity cannot reasonably be added to the facilities due to physical limitations. providing communications services, a locality or its affiliate shall provide nondiscriminatory access to its poles, conduits, rights of way, dark fiber, and towers or other structures, to any private party offering any communications services within the locality, including, without limitation, collocation rights and access to leased fiber, unless the facilities of the locality or its affiliate have insufficient capacity for such access and additional capacity cannot reasonably be added to the facilities due to physical limitations.”

Spangler goes on to add, “This bill will kill completion, leave many low population without services, reduce employment potential, and allow further abuse of customers. Please do not allow this bill to move forward.”

I hope everyone will contact members of the Commerce and Labor Committee in the link found below and respectfully ask them to retire this very anti-free enterprise, anti-business, anti-local governance and un-Republican bill to the trash bin where it belongs.

It is interesting to note that the cable lobby has given $15,000 to Delegate Byron since she was elected in 1998, not a huge amount as contributions go.  From a safely Republican District where she does not have the struggle we do in Caroline, her fundraising looks to be minimal so $1,500.00 a year may be more significant that it appears to be. Her contributions from the cable lobby have increased over the years.

If you think this type of legislation cannot pass, think again. Last year the “Proffer Bill” divested local elected officials of the right, if challenged to decide what proposed new residential development will cost the tax paying citizens they represent.  If a developer disagrees, a judge decides and the tax payers pick up the cost of the legal fees.

Meeting Schedule. The Commerce and Labor committee meets when the house is in session, Tuesday and Thursday, One Half Hour After Adjournment – House Room D.