Kansas senate bill on rural telephone subsidy inspires intense debate

Peeling aside layers of a Senate committee’s work on an otherwise boredom-inducing telecommunications bill exposed seeds of political fireworks — millions of dollars in mandatory customer fees, territorial rivalry, skirmishing over government subsidies and a pending election.

Much of the intriguing action on the bill transpired outside public meetings of the Senate Utilities Committee. Gas block install There were closed-door gatherings among politicians, lobbyists and others about altering state law on the Kansas Universal Service Fund, which was created 20 years ago to help deliver better telephone service to rural areas of the state.

A bizarre warning, revealed through a Kansas Open Records Act request, was issued on behalf of Senate Utilities Chairman Rob Olson, that “somebody is going to get embarrassed” if the Kansas Corporation Commission’s estimate of the original bill’s $17 million cost to consumers wasn’t changed to zero.

An email from Olson’s committee secretary to the KCC said the Olathe Republican was “livid about what he considers inaccuracies and totally false assumptions” about proposed changes to the KUSF.

Olson said the committee sent the full Senate a toned down KUSF reform bill last week and deployed a simple parliamentary maneuver that could put it on the fast track to Gov. Electricity austin Sam Brownback. Gas national average 2008 By unexpectedly folding the Senate committee’s ideas into a House bill, the final version subsequently passed by the Senate could be placed before the full House for a snap yes-or-no vote. Electricity voltage used in usa The strategy avoids a review of the bill by a House committee and blocks opportunities for House amendments.

The bypass apparently negated an informal agreement to leave open a chance for lobbyists to seek House revisions. Tropico 5 power plant It led to a raw verbal exchange at the Statehouse between Olson and John Federico, president of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association. La gasolina in english KOTA is a group of cable companies offering voice and broadband services in urban and rural areas.

Federico said the time had come for lawmakers to “stop the perpetuation of unfair and unnecessary subsidized competition in certain areas of the state as it relates to broadband services.” The KUSF, he said, should be used exclusively to support upgrades in unserved areas rather than regions with established service.

KUSF is fueled by $47 million in fees assessed annually on Kansas telephone customers. Z gastroenterol About three-fifths of the fund — since 2013, a maximum of $30 million per year — is dedicated to telephone and broadband improvements by rural rate-of-return carriers. Gas gangrene The KUSF has been a boon to these companies without deep pockets to develop plant and equipment.

Samir Arif, spokesman of the Kansas Corporation Commission, said the regulatory agency opposed the original Senate bill. C gastronomie mariage The amended version is under KCC review to discern the committee’s intent, he said.

“KCC staff has not been involved in negotiations or in drafting amendments to Senate Bill 346. Z gas el salvador empleos The KCC staff has no opinion on the revised bill at this time,” Arif said.

Concern had been expressed by KCC staff the original bill constituted an assault on the state’s $30 million cap on KUSF infrastructure aid because expansion of payments would make the limit ripe for legal challenge. Gas finder mn KCC staff also were anxious the legislation would allow use of the KUSF to offset any losses of federal financing.

“The commission has the responsibility of ensuring that all local exchange carriers preserve and enhance universal service and provide quality telecommunications services, while also safeguarding the rights of consumers. Gas bubble in chest and back The commission staff does not believe Senate Bill 346 would further those goals,” said Christine Aarnes, chief of telecommunications in the KCC’s utilities division.

Olson, who reported a surge in re-election campaign contributions from telecommunications interests, said objections from the KCC were an outgrowth of commission Chairman Jay Emler’s attempt to undermine rural carriers.

“You’ve got a chairman out there that’s trying to kill anything and hurt the rurals,” Olson said. Electricity 2014 “If you look at what the rurals are doing, they’re doing a fantastic job.”

Olson said House Bill 2131, which now holds contents of what started as Senate Bill 346, wouldn’t result in higher fees on Kansas telephone customers.

Under the bill, KCC policy on allocating KUSF funding would be placed in state law. 1 unit electricity cost in andhra pradesh In addition, CenturyLink, which serves more than 100 communities with less than 1,000 residents, would no longer be required to submit several reports company executives viewed as obsolete. Electricity images cartoon CenturyLink receives $10.9 million annually in KUSF fees outside of the $30 million earmark.

In addition to KCC staff and Federico, the initial draft of the Senate’s bill was opposed by Sprint, of Overland Park, and Eagle Communications, of Hays. Electricity cost calculator It had backing from Olson; Rainbow Communications, of Everest; Pioneer Communications, of Ulysses; and the Kansas Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau will support legislation that makes rural broadband more reliable, said Tiya Tonn-Oppold, a Farm Bureau member who raises Flint Hills beef sold through the Internet.

“Spotty Internet service greatly impedes our day-to-day operations,” Tonn-Oppold said. 2015 electricity prices “When placing online orders, the computer screen will freeze while waiting for the signal to return. Electricity multiple choice questions grade 9 Remote access banking will lock me out of my accounts due to multiple login attempts as web pages closed. Electricity for beginners Missed or delayed customer orders impact our bottom line.”