VOLUME 9, NUMBER 9          March 16, 2001

To: Members

From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President

With the exception of HB 1479, a bill that determines the correct taxing jurisdiction for payment of wireless taxes, all telecommunications-related bills have now been heard by committee. There are, however, a number of bills being held by House committees for further work.

Among those bills being held by committee chairs are proposals for extending the E 911 tax to wireless phones, the Information Technology Department appropriation, a bill requiring Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) coordinators to forward names and addresses to county treasurers and auditors and language related to the powers and duties of the Information Technology Department.

The bills generating the most interest among legislators are SB 2022, the Information and Technology Department appropriation bill, and SB 2067, which is legislation extending the E 911 tax to wireless phones. The former because of its extremely high appropriation and the latter over many legislators’ belief that there should be fewer Public Service Answering Points (there are currently 23) in the State. The Association is working with members of both the House Appropriations and Finance and Tax Committees to provide assistance.

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.

 

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.
Feb. 28 Senate Passed 46-0.
Mar.  7 Sent to Governor
Mar.  12 Signed by Governor.

 

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 to Senate.
Feb. 20 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 7-0.
Mar.  1 Senate Passed 44-0.
Mar.  9 Sent to Governor.
Mar. 14 Signed by Governor.

 

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.
Feb. 21 House Passed 96-1.
Feb. 22 Introduced in Senate.
Mar. 12 Education Committee Recommended “Do Pass”, as amended, 4-3.
Mar. 14 Senate Passed 38-10.

 

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 86-10.

 

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.
Feb. 19 Introduced in Senate. Referred to Finance and Taxation Committee.
Mar. 22 Transportation Committee Hearing - 9:00 a.m.

 

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.

Feb.  9 Introduced in House.
Feb. 13 Finance and Taxation Committee Recommended "Do Pass" 7-6.
Feb. 19 House Passed 72-25.
Feb. 20 Introduced in Senate.
Mar. 13 Finance & Taxation Committee Recommended “Do Pass” 6-1.

 

HCR 3025 A resolution urging the Legislative Council to study safety issues relating to the use of cellular phones while driving an automobile. Sponsors of the resolution cited a study indicating that use of a cell phone while driving quadrupled the risk of a accident during the call and noted that a number of States already imposed restrictions on cell use while driving. Opponents from Verizon and Cellular One strongly opposed the measure and said it was discriminatory to focus on wireless use during driving and not including eating or putting on make-up or any other activity that might distract the driver.

Feb.  2 Introduced in House.
Feb. 16 Transportation Committee Recommended "Do Not Pass" 9-5.
Feb. 21 House Defeated on Voice Vote.

 

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.
Mar.  8 Appropriations Committee Hearing.

 

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.
Mar.  5 Rereferred to Industry, Business and Labor Committee
Mar. 13 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.

 

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.
Mar. 14 Finance and Taxation Committee Hearing.

 

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.
Mar.  9 Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended “Do Pass” 14-0.
Mar. 12 House Passed 80-14.

 

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 2415 Legislation requiring Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to forward the names and addresses of individuals that telephone companies have furnished them to county treasurers and auditors “for the purpose of verifying and correcting names and addresses used for official purposes.” The Association is working to ensure that unpublished and unlisted telephone numbers do not become public record in the county courthouse.

Jan. 29 Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 14 Political Subdivisions Recommended “Do Pass”, as amended, 7-1.
Feb. 15 Senate Passed 45-1.
Feb. 19 Introduced in House.
Mar. 16 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing - 9:00 a.m.
mar. 16 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing.

 

SB 2423 Legislation requiring Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to forward the names and addresses of individuals that telephone companies have furnished them to county treasurers and auditors “for the purpose of verifying and correcting names and addresses used for official purposes.” The Association is working to ensure that unpublished and unlisted telephone numbers do not become public record in the county courthouse.

Jan. 29 Introduced in Senate.
Feb. 14 Political Subdivisions Committee Recommended "Do Pass", as amended, 7-1.
Feb. 15 Senate Passed 45-1.
Feb. 19 Introduced in House.
Mar. 16 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing - 9:00 a.m.

 

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. 19 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.
Mar.  1 House Passed by Voice Vote.
Mar.  9 Filed with Secretary of State.