From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President
SB 2410. A BILL TO REGULATE TELEPHONE COOPERATIVES AND SMALL INDEPENDENT TELEPHONE COMPANIES WILL HAVE A COMMITTEE HEARING NEXT TUESDAY MORNING AT 10:00 a.m. AT THE CAPITOL.
PLEASE MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND AND OPPOSE SB 2410.
The Association was told the committee hearing would be scheduled for February 19th, but it will now be held on Tuesday, February 13, in the Roosevelt Park Room in the State Capitol. The Senate Industry, Business and Labor Committee will begin taking testimony at 10:00 a.m.
Prior to the hearing, members of the Association will meet informally in the Capitol cafeteria at 9:00 a.m. to review the issues.
Although the Legislature took action on a number of bills this week, HB 1253, it should be noted, was withdrawn from further consideration by its sponsors. The bill required cable operators offering internet service to open their networks to competitors for transport.
We will report in further detail on the developments of this week on the website.
We look forward to seeing you in Bismarck on Tuesday.
If you have questions regarding any legislative issue or other matter of concern, please contact me.
HB 1008The Public Service Commissions appropriation bill for the biennium beginning July 1, 2001 and ending June 30, 2003. The Commission is requesting an appropriation of $9,732,463 for the two year cycle, but anticipates taking in $5,842,274 in revenue.
HB 1090 A bill introduced at the request of the Public Service Commission that clarifies the obligation of telecommunications companies to pay a filing fee when a new price schedule or tariff is submitted to the agency. New language is added to the Exemption-Rate Regulation section of the State code stating that telcos do not have to pay any fees when updating or introducing a new tariff.
HB 1093 A bill that makes North Dakotas prohibition against "Slamming" and "Cramming" identical to rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission. The new language is HB 1093 merely changes dates to account for modifications made by the FCC since the North Dakota statute was adopted during the last legislative session. Slamming and Cramming statutes outlaw the unauthorized changes in telecommunications providers and services, respectively.
HB 1182 A bill introduced by the State Board of Higher Education that seeks to have services provided by colleges and universities exempted from telecommunications regulation. The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State currently are the sole telecommunications providers on their properties. They provide all telecommunications within their buildings and to students in the dormitories. Opposition to the bill is forming because the University System is increasingly mandating that private enterprise who have a presence on the campus are required to get their telecommunications service from the university. In addition, NDSU has purchased land off-campus and constructed a retail complex which will be served by the schools telecommunications company. Association Position Papers
HB 1214 A bill that requires interexchange carriers to notify customers of unusually high long distance usage on that customers account. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Byron Clark (R-Fargo) and Senator Tim Flakoll (R-Fargo), requires each interexchange company to develop a policy that defines high usage and to notify the customer by written notice if that standard has been met. It would also require the local carrier to provide notice to the customer if the local carrier was notified by the interexchange carrier. Association Position Papers
HB 1253 A bill requiring cable operators offering internet service to open their networks to competitors for transport. The legislation requires those cable television providers to open their networks for resellers. The bill also makes those companies, including cable operators, who transport information to and from the Internet subject to the interconnection requirements found in Section 251 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996.
HB 1357 A bill to extend the States provision of service to the cities of North Dakota. It expands the Information Technology Departments list of customers for wide area network services to include all of the States communities. Rep. Pam Gulleson, a sponsor of the legislation, testified this bill was to ensure that all cities in the State receive access to the network. Currently, the State intends to make its services available to 194 of the States 361 incorporated cities by the end of the year.
HB 1446 A bill that would require each telcom company providing intrastate long distance to a presubscribed customer to provide at least one day notice before there is any price increase or if there is a change in the terms and conditions of service.
HB 1473 A bill which requires internet service providers to display an on-screen warning if a toll charge will apply to the connection between the subscriber and internet service provider. The Association is contacting our member ISPs, the computer industry and others to determine whether it is feasible.
HB 1479 Legislation that was introduced through the delayed bills committee that determines the proper jurisdiction for wireless carriers to remit taxes. The bill provides that wireless customers and services will be taxed based on the customers residential street address or primary business street address. It will be immaterial where the service originated, terminated or where that traffic may have passed through. HB 1479 also provides for the Public Service Commission, or some other entity, to establish an electronic data base that designates each street address in North Dakota and assigns the appropriate taxing jurisdictions.
HCR 3012 A resolution that asks Congress to reject any attempts to extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act. In 1998, President Clinton signed the measure that bans the imposition of any State and local tax on Internet access or electronic commerce transactions. Although there have been several bills introduced in Congress to make the moratorium on tax collections permanent, the resolution states that it will have a detrimental affect and pose grave financial risks for State and local governments as more transactions are completed over the Internet.
SB 2022 The Information Technology Departments appropriation bill. The Department is requesting a budget of $107,021,019, but anticipates income of just over $71 million. The general fund appropriation is $35,835,932.
SB 2043 A bill revising the obligations of the Information Technology Department which clarifies their obligation to approve projects by entities under control of the State board of higher education, slightly alters the membership and renames the Statewide wide area network advisory committee, allows the Department to finance the purchase of equipment and streamlines the agencys business reports.
SB 2067 A bill to extend the E 911 tax currently paid by wireline customers to subscribers of wireless devices. Former Governor Ed Schafer vetoed a similar bill at the conclusion of the last legislative session, but during the interim appointed a Task Force to hammer out language to extend the tax to wireless customers. The Task Force used the existing statute for the basis of extending the E 911 surcharge to wireless, but there are distinct sections in the bill for wireless and wireline, including segregated funds for compensating the providers. In the Associations judgment a better option would be a single, unified fund with the Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) and counties as the focal point, but compromise on the issue was difficult to achieve. Association Position Papers
SB 2227 A bill to amend the existing North Dakota One Call statute by clarifying the liability of excavators who damage facilities. It has been described by proponents as restoring the liability language that existed prior to the adoption of the one call statute. The new language more closely resembles strict liability for those who fail to follow the law and, subsequently, damage facilities. Association Position Papers
SB 2410 A bill to abolish the telephone cooperative exemption and to subject all telephone companies with more than 2,500 local exchange subscribers to Public Service Commission jurisdiction. It would give the PSC the authority to originate, establish, modify, adjust, promulgate and enforce tariffs, rates, joint rates and charge of all telecommunications companies with more than 2,500 subscribers. The legislation also extends the same PSC oversight and requirements to rural electric cooperatives. NDATC Testimony
SB 2423 A bill that modifies the call-before-you-dig law in North Dakota and would allow a operator with underground facilities to not mark an area if they notify an excavator that their facilities are mapped on a geographical information system and that the excavation will not disturb their facilities. The facilities owner must also provide the excavator with the name and address of the entity with the geographical information system. The Association is somewhat concerned with the wording of this bill because the One-Call statute has no provision for direct contact between the facilities-owner and the excavator. All communications, absent emergencies, are between the two entities and the one-call center.
SB 2437 A bill that creates a statewide database that consumers may register with if they do not want telemarketing calls. The Public Service Commission would establish and operate a database of telephone numbers of residential customers who object to receiving telephone solicitations. The legislation also specifies rules for telemarketers soliciting individuals, fees for participating in the system and penalties for violating provisions of the Act.
SCR 4008 A resolution introduced at the urging of Qwest that expresses the Legislatures support for Qwest to be allowed Section 271 relief, which would allow them to provide interLATA and interstate services. Currently, they are prohibited from carrying calls across the LATA line dividing North Dakota and from carrying calls out-of-State. Qwest says that consumer choice and the number of voice and data providers are limited in the State as evidence the resolution should be supported. The resolution further urges Qwest to submit an application for approval to the FCC by December 31, 2001.Association Position Papers