28 April 2015
Committee action, Apr. 28: HB 534
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HB 534 by Rep. Joseph Bouie would create regulation of any statewide cable franchise and put under the power of the Public Service Commission. He said to the House Commerce Committee that as the Federal Communications Commission now has declared internet service a utility, any franchising relying upon Internet delivery now should fall under the PSC.
Rep. Steven Ortego asked whether the Legislature would have any oversight if this became law. He was told that by statute it could direct the PSC, but regulations over the Internet, in terms of delivery video services, would now solely be directed by the PSC. Rep. Katrina Jackson noted that even as the Secretary of State has the ability to grant franchises statewide, there is no regulatory power and none is being done now. Ortego expressed concern that the bill was too open-ended in its power to regulate.
Opponents said the bill would undo provisions of legislative control established years ago. They said the bill was premature concerning the Internet and that the PSC would charge fees that would be passed through to consumers. Already much was reporting was being done to the FCC. The pointed out that the field was competitive and not indicative of a monopolistic business, yet the bill would impose regulation on just one sector of that.
Rep. Erich Ponti made a substitute motion after the close to defer voluntarily. That passed 14-3.