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Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Pole Position
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I'm writing from the comforts of a Border's Books & Records store in the heart of Indianapolis. This morning I testified on the merits of two pieces of legislation offered in the state House. HB 1693 and HB 1518 are sponsored, respectively, by an assistant majority whip named Eric Koch and by the chairman of the relevant committee, Mike Murphy.

My statement is here.

What should be said, and was not said this morning, is that these men have put forward some of the most ambitious state telecom legislation I've seen in a few years. It is too easy of a lame joke to make a reference here to auto racing...so I won't.

These legislators were unaware of PFF's own model state statute although I won't be surprised to see some of Ray and Adam's work borrowed before the debate is through.

Koch's bill would certainly go further. He starts with the premise that telecommunications should be removed from the purview of "public utility" law and regulation. Murphy's HB 1518 is not quite so dramatic it would significantly alter the long-term investment plans for facilities-based firms by providing certainty to their ability set market prices.

Both legislators end up nearly in the same place -- with an emphasis on phased retail rate deregulation, technology neutrality, consumer protection and a long-term focus on how to encourage new investment from all providers.

Chairman Murphy has more political support and he wields the gavel in a busy committee in a House that recently flipped control from Democrat to Republican.

For those keeping score at home, folks for Murphy's bill include the CWA, SBC, Sprint, Verizon and several independent and rural carriers. The opposition was led this morning by the cable industry. Keep and eye on this one; the next hearing is on Wednesday the 9th and if either bill has a hope it must clear the full House by the end of the month.

posted by @ 2:28 PM | State Policy

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