The Advocate reports, in a staff-filed brief, that Governor Blanco is considering not signing off on HB 699, BellSouth’s state-wide franchise bill. The conference committee amended bill was given final approval yesterday, the last day of the session.
Even the possibility of a veto is exciting and surprising. Get out your phones and call the governors office (1-866.310.7617) to ask that the governor not sign onto a bill that strips local governments of their right to control its local property.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Monday she has not decided whether to sign legislation that would allow telecommunications companies to get a statewide franchise to provide television service
“Local communities are asking me to take a second look,” she said.
The proposed law is classically bad legislation. It is offered by a single well-heeled special interest, BellSouth, and favors BellSouth’s business interests in opposition to the best interests of local people and local communities.
While the first and most basic reason to oppose the bill is that it involves the state in legislating in favor of the business plan of a single lobbyist-rich corporation the really important issue is the way that the bill strips local governments of the tool that it has always used to force any corporation that wants to use community property to offer service to all at the same price. HB 699 explicitly forbids local governments to make such “build-out” requirements. It is the rural areas of parishes and the poorer areas of cities and towns that will inevitably be judged not good enough to serve with modern phone, TV, and internet services. Local governments have long been the only level of government willing to stand up to the powerful telecom lobbies and demand service for all–this bill strips local people of that last defense.
This might be a moment when Blanco would be able to hear Louisiana citizens and some home-town voices. Help give her an excuse to block this bill.
Toll-free: 1-866.310.7617 (update: I’ve been told that @ 11:00 nobody is picking up. Try it first but be prepared to whip out your cell and call the alternate number.)
Alternate: (225) 342-0991 (Nice lady answers the phone and takes your brief message.)
Fax: (225) 342-7099
Web-based email: Email the Governor
(update: the webmail script does not appear to execute correctly on my setup–it certainly doesn’t complete; the embedded email address is: email@example.com –it would probably be wiser to use that than to trust the webmail form.)
And when you finish encourage your friends to do the same.