VOLUME 12, NUMBER 2               JANUARY 12, 2007


To: Members

From: David Crothers, Executive Vice President

The coming week will be busy for members of the Association as directors and managers come to Bismarck for hearings on House Bill 1142, which will extend the co-op/commercial company exemption from 8,000 to 18,000; House Bill 1143 that proposes to give the Public Service Commission the authority to issue "suspensions and modifications" when considering interconnection issues for rural telcos; and Senate Bill 2169, the Association of Counties' proposal to make changes to E-911 statutes in North Dakota. Finally, the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee will also take testimony on HB 1316. The legislation bars "pretexting" and imposes additional privacy obligations on telcos.

The Association will also be hosting its biennial Legislative Dinner on Tuesday evening at the Ramkota Inn. As of today, 340 individuals have confirmed their attendance at the dinner. It should be an enjoyable evening.

The number of bills introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate continues to trail most years, although there is adequate time for a substantial amount to still be submitted. Next Monday is the deadline for members of the House to submit legislation and Senators will only be allowed to submit three more bills following the close of business that day. A substantial early decrease occurred when there were only 275 prefiled bills this year, compared with most years when there are close to 450 filed before the legislature convenes.

If you have any questions, please contact either myself or members of the Associations Legislative Committee. To call your legislator toll free the number is 1-888-635-3447. Bismarck-Mandan residents should call 328-3373. Members of the Legislative Committee can be found at the Association's homepage at www.ndatc.com.



HB 1021- The bill provides authority for the Information Technology Department to increase their ability to borrow money during the biennium. Specifically, it will allow ITD to borrow money from the Bank of North Dakota in the event that e-rate funding is not received from the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company. The Department would have to receive prior approval from the Emergency Commission before borrowing the money.

Jan. 3 Introduced in House.
Jan. 15 Approprations Committee Hearing at 8:30 a.m.
   


HB 1142- The legislation increases the benchmark for rate deregulation for cooperative and independent telecommunications companies from 8,000 to 18,000 subscriber lines. Currently, all telephone cooperatives and those commercial companies with fewer than 8,000 lines have rate deregulation.

Jan. 4 Introduced in House.
Jan. 15 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing - 8:00 a.m.
   


HB 1143- This proposal would grant additional authority to the Public Service Commission and give the agency the ability to issue "Suspensions or Modifications" when considering rural exemptions. That expanded authority would be limited to Commission's consideration of independent telephone companies' requests for exemptions from interconnection. Although the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 envisions State Commissions having the ability to grant suspensions or modifications, the North Dakota legislature has never specifically authorized that jurisdiction for them.

Jan. 4 Introduced in House.
Jan. 15 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing - 8:00 a.m.
   


HB 1196- Legislation that will prohibit minors from using wireless devices or cellular phones while they are operating a motor vehicle. There are many variations of this legislation throughout the United States and include a mandate to use "hands-free" devices, complete prohibitions for adults as well as minors and complete bans for minors. Similar legislation has been proposed unsuccessfully in North Dakota in the past.

Jan. 5 Introduced in House.
Jan. 5 Referred to Transportation Committee.
   


HB 1316- Legislation introduced to add additional protection to a consumer's telephone records. The language will make it illegal for someone to attempt to procure another person's telephone records without the permission of the telco's customer. It will also make it illegal to sell or attempt to sell another's telephone records. The proposal seems to be an attempt to avoid the problems that arose during the Hewlett-Packard "pretexting" scandal in California in 2006. Of concern to the Association is language that will impose obligations on telecom companies to develop policies and constraints on the use of customer information. The NDATC Legislative Committee has been solicited for the opinions on the legislation.

Jan. 8 Introduced in House.
Jan. 17 Industry, Business and Labor Committee Hearing - 1:30 p.m.
   


SB 2008- The appropriations bill for the Public Service Commission. The legislation does not envision great changes from their appropriations bill of two years ago, although it provides for a new employee to handle GIS specialist. The bill again asks for approximately $900,000 to pursue a rail rate case on behalf of North Dakotans.

Jan. 3 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 12 Appropriations Committee Hearing.
   


SB 2169- Legislation advocated by the North Dakota Association of Counties that will begin to assess prepaid wireless phones and VoIP providers for a county's E-911 assessed fee. Additionally, the bill comprehensively revises the relationship between the counties and the Public Service Answering Points (PSAP's), while renaming an existing committee that oversees E-911 best practices. The Association has spent a substantial amount of time negotiating with the counties over the language that would be included within the bill. Earlier drafts included language that would have reduced the amount that telecom companies were able to retain for administration of the monies and a separate proposal to prohibit telcos from charging counties for their work changing the data base. The Association was very pleased that these items were not included in the bill's final version. The Association's legislative committee is reviewing on provision within the proposal that will mandate telcos to notify PSAP's within 24 hours of any changes to the data base.

Jan. 8 Introduced in Senate.
Jan. 17 Political Subdivisions Committee Hearing - 10:00 a.m.