Kansas Bill Seeking to Ban Cities and Towns From Building Broadband Networks Dies on the Vine

February 20, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

Last month the lobbying group for various broadband providers that do business in the state of Kansas tried to ram a bill through the state legislature that would ban municipalities and towns from building their own broadband infrastructure. Today we have learned the fate of that effort via Ars Technica, and its good news for communities in the state that are desperate to have access to a decent broadband network.

The Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA), which represents such companies as Comcast, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Time Warner Cable, proposed a ban on telecommunications, video, and broadband services offered by municipalities and would have made it illegal for cities and towns to "buy, build, lease, maintain, or operate any facility" that helps a private business offer telecommunications, video, or broadband services.

The bill did offer an exception for "underserved areas" but the language was so vague that it was hard to categorize such an area. After a lot of criticism about the language of the bill, the trade group said that it would tweak its language, but it looks like it is dead in the water.

According to one of the most vocal opponents of the bill in the state, it will not be voted on in this legislative session.

"We stabbed it and shot it and hanged it and dissolved it in hydrofluoric acid, and flushed it down the toilet. It's dead," Joshua Montgomery, who runs a small ISP in Lawrence, KS, told Ars.

Montgomery is not taking any chances that it will come back either. He continues to press state lawmakers on the matter with letters "every day."

"We are on top of it. We are not going to let it come back up," he said. "I think we did really kill the entire issue for at least a year."

The bill had been scheduled for a Senate committee hearing, but that has been canceled and, according to what Kansas Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D) told Montgomery in an e-mail the bill "has lost its momentum at this time."

Even the trade group admits that it has lost the battle this year; when asked if the KCTA plans to submit a revised version of the bill, KCTA President John Federico told Ars Technica that, "at this time it is highly unlikely that we will be pursing legislation this Legislative Session."

Ars Technica has more on the issue here. While Kansas has avoided this legislation, there are at least 20 other states where trade groups representing the telecommunications industry have successfully stopped cities and towns from building out their own broadband networks.

Source: Ars Technica


 
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