VOLUME 9, NUMBER 6          FEBRUARY 16, 2001

To: Members

From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President


The Association deeply appreciates the many managers, directors and friends who traveled to Bismarck on Tuesday to meet with their members of the Senate and attend the committee hearing for SB 2410. We especially want to thank Mr. Dave Dunning from Polar Communications and Mr. Mick Grosz from West River Telecommunications for their compelling testimony opposing the legislation.

We anticipate the Senate Industry, Business and Labor Committee will vote on a "recommendation" for the bill on Monday. The Association will notify our member companies and board members immediately of the Committee’s determination.

Today, we are sending each member of the North Dakota Senate a letter outlining the reasons for opposing SB 2410.

This week the telecommunications industry agreed to an amendment for HB 1182 that puts parameters around the University System’s language to become a deregulated telecommunications carrier. The amendment will be included in the website version of the Association’s Legislative Report. Please see ndatc.com.

Additionally, there are three House bills on the calendar, which will probably be voted upon today: HB 1446, HB 1473 and HB 1479. The Association is opposing HB 1446 and HB 1473.

HB 1446 requires one day notice before the increase of prices or changes in the terms and conditions of service for intrastate toll. HB 1473 requires a pop-up box to appear on the computer screen if a toll-charge applies to the connection and HB 1479 specifies the mechanics for wireless carriers to remit tax collections to the proper jurisdictions.

Next Friday is the deadline for all bills to be voted upon in their house of origin. All House bills must be voted on by House members and all Senate bills must be voted upon by Senate members. As a result, there will be vote on SB 2410, the bill seeking to regulate the rates for telephone companies and electric cooperatives with more than 2,500 customers, by Friday.

If you have questions regarding any legislative issue or other matter of concern, please contact me.


HB 1008 The Public Service Commission’s 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.

Jan. 9     Introduced in House.
Feb. 12  Appropriations Committee Recommended "Do Pass", as amended, 19-2.
Feb. 14  House Passed 95-0.
Feb. 15  Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 21 Appropriations Committee Hearing - 8:30 a.m.


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.

Jan. 9     Introduced in House.
Jan. 17   Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 14-0.
Jan. 19   House Passed 90-0.
Jan. 22   Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 20  Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 7-0.


HB 1093 A bill that makes North Dakota’s 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.

Jan. 9    Introduced  in House.  
Jan. 17  Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 14-0.
Jan. 19  House Passed 89-0.
Jan. 22  Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 20 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 7-0.


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 University currently are the sole telecommunications providers on their properties. They provide all telecommunications within their buildings and to students in the dormitories. After objections by the Association and others over the broad scope of the legislation, a number of providers met with the Chancellor of the University System to seek common ground. HB 1182 has now been amended in committee and, although quite expansive, places some parameters around the services and potential customers they may serve. Association Position Papers  AMENDMENT

Jan. 9  Introduced in House. 
Feb. 9 Education Committee Recommended "Do Pass", as amended, 15-0.
Feb. 13 Rereferred to Committee.


HB 1214 A bill that requires interexchange carriers to notify customers of unusually high long distance usage on that customer’s 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

Jan. 11  Introduced in House. 
Jan. 22  Finance and Taxation Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 10-4.
Jan. 25  House Defeated 73-24.


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.

Jan. 15 Introduced in House.
Feb. 2  Withdrawn by Sponsor.


HB 1357 A bill to extend the State’s provision of service to the cities of North Dakota. It expands the Information Technology Department’s list of customers for wide area network services to include all of the State’s 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 State’s 361 incorporated cities by the end of the year.

Jan. 19   Introduced in House. 
Feb.  2   Government and Veterans Affairs Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 13-1.
Feb.  6   House Defeated 77-19.


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.

Jan. 22     Introduced in House.
Feb. 13    Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 10-5.
Feb. 16   House Defeated 10-86.


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. Mr. Lynn Nelson from SRT testified on behalf of the Association and independent telephone industry and told legislators of the technical hurdles and great expense of complying with the bill.

Jan. 22     Introduced in House.
Feb. 15     Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 12-1.
Feb. 19   House Defeated 86-9.


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 customer’s 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.

Feb. 9     Introduced in House.
Feb. 13   Finance and Taxation Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 15-0.
Feb. 16  House Passed 92-0.


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.

Jan. 22  Introduced in House.
Feb. 12 Finance and Taxation Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 7-6.
Feb. 19  House Passed 72-25.


SB 2022 The Information Technology Department’s 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.

Jan. 9     Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 12  Appropriations Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 11-0.
Feb. 13  Senate Passed 48-0.
Feb. 15 Introduced in House. Referred to Appropriations Committee.


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 agency’s business reports.

Jan.  9    Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 9    Government and Veterans Affairs Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 6-0.
Feb. 13  Amended on Floor.
Feb. 13  Senate Passed 48-0.
Feb. 15 Introduced in House. Referred to Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.


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 Association’s judgment a better option would be a single, unified fund with the Public Service Answering Points (PSAP’s) and counties as the focal point, but compromise on the issue was difficult to achieve. Association Position Papers

Jan. 9   Introduced in Senate. 
Jan. 31 Finance and Taxation Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 5-1.
Feb. 1  Senate Passed 44-5.
Feb. 5  Introduced in House.  Referred to Finance and Taxation Committee.


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

Jan. 16  Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 1   Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 8-0.
Feb. 2   Senate Passed 49-0.
Feb. 6   Introduced in House.  Referred to Political Subdivisions Committee.


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

Jan. 29  Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 20 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass", as amended, 4-3.
Feb. 21 Senate Defeated 31-17.


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.

Jan. 29  Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 12  Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 8-0.
Feb. 15 Senate Defeated 44-3.


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.

Jan. 29  Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 6   Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 5-2.
Feb. 7   Senate Defeated 35-14.


SCR 4008 A resolution introduced at the urging of Qwest that expresses the Legislature’s 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

Jan. 12 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 30 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass", as amended, 7-0.
Feb. 1  Senate Passed by Voice Vote.
Feb. 5  Introduced in House.
Feb. 14 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 15-0.