Finance Committee Debates Governments Involvement in Broadband Industry

House Finance Committee Debated HB129 Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition

The Sponsor of the bil Rep. Avila explained the bill. Basically bill is about free enterprise- specifically with providing broadband services. Currently private industries are in competition with local governments- We should be asking why is government in this business to begin with if there is a company in the private sector providing services?

Rep. Faison presented an amendment that would clarify underserved areas.
Rep. Ross spoke in favor of the amendment. She also argued that we need to create a true level playing field- we’ve deregulated this industry and allowed providers to not have to provide to underserved areas. She wishes we had build-out provisions in the bill.

The Sponsor, Rep. Avila did not like the amendment and urged members to vote against it.

A voice vote on the amendment is taken but the result is unclear and division is called- which means members re-vote by raising their hands in support of the amendment. The amendment passes 14 to 12.

Rep. K. Alexander presented an amendment, which would prohibit predatory pricing.

Rep. Samuelson did not support the amendment and added that providing service is NOT a core function of government, it’s the private sectors job.
Rep. Collins also added, that we need to be careful about government going into any kind of business.

Hand count for Amendment: Fails 10 to 16.

Rep. Luebke requested that there be a public hearing on the bill.

Debate continued on the bill and since not all of the amendments were able to be heard or addressed and there was no time left to hear public comments the bill will be brought back up in committee for discussion next Wednesday.

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