VOLUME 10, NUMBER 1          JANUARY 10, 2003


To: Members

From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President

Welcome to the fifty-eighth legislative assembly. As you will see in this first edition of our Legislative Report, there will be numerous telecommunications issues to be debated in Bismarck during the next four months.

In fact, we begin in earnest next week with eight committee hearings relating to telecommunications matters. While each is important and we will present the appropriate committee with testimony, we are especially concerned about a Information Technology Department proposal that would allow the State of North Dakota to open up their facilities and to provide "videoconferencing and associated services" to members of the public. The legislation, SB 2042, will be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. in the Missouri River Room. We strongly believe that it is inappropriate for the State to compete with private businesses in North Dakota for the consumer dollar.

The Association will also be hosting members of the legislature next Tuesday night at the organization's Legislative Dinner. As you will recall, directors and managers of the independent telephone companies invite members of the House, Senate and Executive Branch for a night of fellowship when legislators are in Bismarck for the session. There is still time to register for the event if you have not done so and are interested in joining us.

If you have questions regarding any of the telecommunications legislation included in this report or thoughts on our approach to an issue, please contact me. We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.

HB 1022 The legislation provides for the Information Technology Department's two-year appropriation, as well as allowing the State to sell $20 million in bonds to fund ConnectND. The Information Technology Department is requesting $108.1 million for the biennium and anticipates recovering $97.6 million in revenues.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 7 Appropriations Committee Hearing.
Jan. 16 Appropriations Committee Hearing.


HB 1043 The bill seeks to resolve a number of issues for administering the Information Technology Department (ITD) regarding the date State agencies must submit their "technology plans" to ITD, eliminates obsolete microfilm units and eliminates the State Information Technology Advisory Committee. The Committee's role is to advise ITD regarding statewide information technology planning, including providing electronic government services for citizens and businesses, developing technology infrastructure to support economic development and workforce training, and developing other statewide information. This bill also expands the authority of ITD to purchase, finance or lease "implementation services" to carry out their mission.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House. Referred to Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.


HB 1052 The proposal reflects the agreement between Qwest and the Public Service Commission to monitor the telephone company's compliance obligations in providing interstate long distance services. Before Qwest was allowed to provide those long distance services they demonstrated to the Public Service Commission their compliance with a 14 point checklist determined by the Federal Communications Commission. This legislation established a Performance Assurance Plan, which will be used by the Public Service Commission to monitor the operation and effect of Qwest's entry into the interstate market.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 8 Industry, Business and Labor Committee recommended "Do Pass", 14-0.


HB 1053 The proposal seeks to continue the life of the Regulatory Reform Review Commission (RRRC) through December 31, 2004. The RRRC's authority to exist ended on the last day of December 2002 and needs to be reinstated by the legislative body. The 5 person Commission is designed to review ongoing telecommunications developments, both legislative and regulatory, and report back to the full legislature with recommendations for preserving and advancing telecommunications services for the State's citizens.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 8 Industry Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


HB 1105 Legislation introduced at the request of the Tax Commissioner.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 13 Finance and Tax Committee Hearing.


HB 1132 A bill that would require resellers of telecommunications services to acquire an annual license each year before they would be allowed to do business in the State of North Dakota.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 14 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


HB 1133 Legislation introduced at the request of the Public Service Commission that would require each telecommunications company, electric utility, gas utility and pipeline utility to pay the PSC a $100 fee annually.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 14 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


HB 1134 In North Dakota, it is law that customers have the right to purchase "essential telecommunications services" separate from other telecom services that a telephone company offers. Under this proposal, only
telephone companies that "provides essential telecommunications services" must be required to offer essential services only.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 14 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


HB 1135 The Public Service Commission in this bill is requesting the authority to resolve numbering issues such as the recent implementation of 211 (Mental Health), 511 (State Transportation) and future Nxx assignments. Separately, the Commission also seeks to have language dropped that limits their authority to impose obligations on telephone companies that are greater or different than Federal obligations.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 14 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


SB 2008 The two-year appropriation for the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC). The Commission is asking for $10.1 million and anticipates income of $6.1 million during the biennium.

Jan. 7 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 20 Appropriations Committee Hearing.


SB 2042 A bill introduced at the request of the Information Technology Department (ITD) that would allow school districts or institutions of higher learning to allow members of the public to use State facilities for "videoconferencing or associated network services" when a private provider is unavailable and allowing the access "does not inhibit future private provider service." Association Position Paper

Jan. 7 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 13 Education Committee Hearing.


SB 2064 A State Radio proposal that requires fees collected under the 911 wireless provisions of State law to be charged and paid to the political subdivisions that enter into contracts with State Radio. Current statutes allow counties with fewer than 20,000 residents to receive their 911 service from State Radio.

Jan. 7 Introduced in House.
Jan. 15 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


SB 2116 Legislation introduced at the request of the Public Service Commission (PSC) that would require local telecommunications companies, as well as providers of intrastate telecommunications services a notice to customers any time there is a price increase. Local telcos would be required to give notice at least fifteen days beforehand if there is an increase of more than 1 percent for essential local exchange service, as well as a 1 day notice if there is in increase of more than 5 percent for any nonessential local exchange service. Providers of intrastate service would be required to give any presubscribed customer a 1 day notice if there was a change in the terms or conditions of that service that results in a price increase.

Jan. 7 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 15 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.


SB 2117 This proposal is captioned as modifying the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission to assess costs to public utilities for their rate hearings, but the language limits the PSC authority to rate proceedings affecting gas or electric public utilities. It is not applicable to the telephone industry.

Jan. 7 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 15 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing.