Do over: House Bill moves to new committee

Okay, folks, this is a bit dry but here’s what happened today. I would have posted sooner, but couldn’t get a decent wireless signal in the legislative office building.

House Bill 1252, the one that would prevent local governments from providing better broadband in NC was -not- voted on today in the Science and Technology Committee. But Brian, you ask, isn’t that where the sponsors were? Yes, it is. But, after talking about several amendments to the bill and hearing from our Mayor and the Mayor of Salisbury, a substitute motion was made to send the bill ‘without prejudice’ to the House Utility Committee. The term ‘without prejudice’ means they weren’t recommending passage or denial, just sending it to another committee.

While this is better than it could have been, the fight isn’t over. Now, the utility committee takes it up and we all start over.

Here’s the part that really surprised me. Several times, members of the committee asked bill sponsors Rep. Ty Harrell (Wake) and Rep. Thom Tillis (Mecklenburg) for clarification. The lawmakers turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf. You read that right. The sponsors, elected by their communities, had to ask a Time Warner rep to clarify what their own bill said.

Anyway, the debate goes to the Utility Committee. Thanks to Rep. Phillip Haire (Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties)  for making the substitute motion that the bill go to another committee.

Thanks to YOU or your encouragement as we continue this battle (as our Mayor puts it) of David versus Goliath and all his cousins.

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12 Responses

  1. Brian:

    When will the bill be heard in the Utility Committee? Is the session open to the public? I’d love to come.

    /ek

    • Evan, It will be open to the public. As soon as I have the time and place I’ll post it. We’d love to see you there.

  2. Brian,

    This is a great issue to bring to the forefront and I hope it brings some shame to lawmakers that need to rely on large corporations to write their bills. I grew up in rural Minnesota and it sincerely bothers me to see companies like TW holding small communities (like the ones my family live in) at ransom.

    The prices they charge may not seem like much for someone who lives in an urban area and is paid accordingly but, coming from a small town, I know that a lot of those pricing tiers fall within the “luxury” category.

    On a side note, I was in Wilson once on a very long drive when my car broke down. The people there were very friendly to me and reminded me of the people and places where I grew up. Best of luck with this fight, and shame on your legislature.

    • Travis, I’m always glad to hear stories like that about your trip here. You’re welcome to swing by anytime. Thanks, also, for the kind words. :)

      • I sent a message to Rep. Tillis and he responded.

        Does anyone know if his reply is true?

        Rep. Thom Tillis to me
        show details 10:30 AM (7 hours ago) Reply

        Thank you for the email. We have adopted several amendments, which address the legitimate concerns the government-owned cable/broadband companies had, so it seems the folks opposed to HB 1252 have run out of valid arguments and have resorted to cheap shots. The blog entry you are talking about is misleading and self serving. It was posted by someone who works for the City of Wilson and who has a vested interest in expanding this industry. The blogger says:

        “Here’s the part that really surprised me. Several times, members of the committee asked bill sponsors Rep. Ty Harrell (Wake) and Rep. Thom Tillis (Mecklenburg) for clarification. The lawmakers turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf. You read that right. The sponsors, elected by their communities, had to ask a Time Warner rep to clarify what their own bill said.”

        What the blogger did not mention is that the attorney was at the podium in the formal committee meeting, which is subject to parliamentary procedure. The attorney had been recognized by the committee Chairman to respond to a question directed to him by another committee member about how the industry viewed the Injunctive Relief provision. The discussion regarded an amendment to remove the injunctive relieve and the members had asked a representative of the industry to express their position on the amendment. I supported (voted for) the amendment the attorney spoke against. The blogger knows this is a common process. These are facts that can be verified with a request of the meeting minutes/recording.

        I believe the person who posted the blog is the Public Affairs Manager for the City of Wilson (Brian Bowman). He apparently did so with the full approval of the Town Manager and Mayor, since many of his posts were made during regular business hours. Mr. Bowman is very familiar with the committee process, so I can only surmise from his comments he intended to sway people to his way of thinking through whatever means necessary, including misleading information.

        Respectfully, Thom T.

        Representative Thom Tillis
        NC House of Representatives

        From: More Broadband NOW! [mailto:morebroadbandnow@gmail.com]
        Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 9:49 PM
        To: Rep. Thom Tillis
        Subject: Are you following the lead of big business?

        Representative Tillis,

        I hear you are a technology guy so I would think you would favor efforts to expand boadband access. I read a blog where people are saying you are a “lap dog” for the cable companies, and you are doing what they tell you. One blogger says you pretty much had to get a cable company attorney to answer questions about YOUR bill. Is that true?

        We need more broadband now. We do not need to have big business tell us how and when we will get it.

  3. called and emailed my rep’s. please set up a Twitter account for this effort to get the info out quicker. Let me know when you do and I will help get the word out.

    http://twitter.com/jakrose

  4. That note about the bill’s sponsors turning to the TWC reps was truly terrifying. I hope the citizens that helped elect these corporate lapdogs are taking note.

    Good luck, Brian! Keep fighting this!

  5. Who’s on that committee? It would be useful for
    folks who have representatives on that committee to write or call them.

    I don’t know if it’s usual to contact them if they are not your own representative – is it useful to contact them then, or is it better to just show up to hearings? I don’t know that much about how things work.

  6. The way to help steamroll these anti-consumer efforts has to be a network of “call to action” alerts which get people e-mailing, phoning, and writing right away with a simple to follow and understand action message.

    This is how we drove the usage caps TW wanted to drop on the Triad (and other communities like mine in Rochester, NY) back onto the shelf.

    I need a volunteer who can alert our readers to these action alerts by entering them into our site. There are more than 10,000 readers in North Carolina now, mostly in and around the Triad, so they can be mobilized on state legislation.

    An Action Alert would be something like:

    Action Alert: North Carolinians Get on the Phones Now… please call [name of official] now at [#] and tell them you oppose Bill [x] because it would impede municipal broadband. Msg: Since the big cable and phone companies don’t see [community] as a priority to deliver 21st century broadband, the community needs to do it themselves, and it is shameful for this legislation to try and prevent that from happening.

    Then mass blast it out through our site, Twitter, this one, SMS text message, etc. A carefully coordinated campaign can literally shut down an elected official’s phone lines with a mass of calls. E-mails are okay as well.

    Just AVOID online petitions, Facebook groups that take names and don’t act, rallies that don’t have media there, etc. None of those things work at all. What works is media focus, your federal Congress folks speaking up on this, showing up at any town hall events, and lots of phone calls, e-mail, and letters.

    And be vigilant – if defeated this time, they always come back for more.

  7. [...] ban municipal competition were asked to clarify, and rather than answer themselves, the politicians “turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their … In other words, they outright admitted they didn’t understand their own legislation and that the [...]

  8. [...] ban municipal competition were asked to clarify, and rather than answer themselves, the politicians “turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on … In other words, they outright admitted they didn’t understand their own legislation and that [...]

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