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North Carolina Action Alert: Victory Short-Lived, S1209 Is Back Like a Bad Penny This Tuesday

North Carolina Legislature

We collectively sighed last Wednesday when the Senate Finance Committee temporarily pulled S1209, but the victory is short-lived.  Sources tell us S1209 is scheduled to return this Tuesday, one day after the long Memorial Day weekend.

We are not happy with some of the rumors that have been circulating around the Legislative Building in Raleigh.  One suggests S1209 will be modified into a one year, renewable moratorium on municipal broadband while a joint task force ponders questions about financing of municipal broadband, broadband adoption and speed, and overall competition in North Carolina.  Without a clear sunset provision, the legislature can renew the moratorium indefinitely, assuring incumbent phone and cable companies of a continued easy ride into our wallets.

Much has also been said by Sen. Clodfelter regarding the legality of municipal broadband in North Carolina.  Some of his earlier comments suggest he’d be a proponent for a moratorium while the state legislature thrashes out the legal questions.

But the courts have already effectively dealt with this question and handed victory to municipalities.  Why bother with a moratorium when in 2005, Laurinburg, North Carolina won its court battle against big telecom companies.  The judge ruled:

“Laurinburg’s network is run over fiber optic “wires or cable,” providing a “system” for “transmit[ting]” and “receiv[ing]” electronic signals capable of being converted to “audio” and/or “video” streams of information. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-319(b). We believe this fits within a broad construction of the definition of a CTS. Therefore, we hold that Laurinburg is acting within its municipal authority to run its network, and was not acting ultra vires in contracting with School Link to provide the network’s ISP service.”

Doesn’t the legislature have better things to do than to spend all of this valuable time doing work for big phone and cable companies?

We need you to again write and call your legislators. We have been told by numerous sources that your input has been very effective in pushing back S1209.  The more North Carolina consumers speak out against this anti-consumer bill, the less likely it will ever become law.

Here are the points you need to raise in your next letter or phone call:

  1. Why is the legislature still spending time on this unnecessary, anti-consumer legislation?  S1209 is wanted by large phone and cable companies.  You want your town or city to have every option open to deliver better service if a consensus is reached for it in your community.  The current system already provides effective checks and balances.  We don’t need S1209.
  2. Studying broadband issues is fine, but placing a moratorium on municipal broadband projects in the meantime is completely unacceptable.
  3. Corning’s plant in Hickory, North Carolina produces 40 percent of the world’s supply of fiber optic cable.  Passing S1209 impedes fiber projects in North Carolina, hurting our own workers and state economy.
  4. North Carolina needs all the broadband expansion it can get.  We are ranked 41st out of 50 states.  Passing S1209 preserves mediocre broadband service in our state indefinitely.

For some of you, this will be your third or fourth call or e-mail.  Perhaps it’s time to remind legislators you are becoming increasingly concerned that measures like S1209 continue to be debated.  While Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink/Embarq’s legislative priorities continue to get plenty of time and attention in Raleigh, they don’t get a vote in the next election.  Remind them you do, and your continued support hinges on whether you can feel confident members represents your interests, not those of big cable and phone companies.

Remember the three rules when contacting your legislators:

  • Be polite.
  • Be persuasive.
  • Be persistent.

Well-informed constituents who can defeat industry talking points represents the nuclear option against bad telecommunications legislation.

Now get on the phones and e-mail and get busy.  Remember — one e-mail message per address.  No carbon copies!

Here is the list:

County First Name Last Name Tel (919) Party Email Address Leg Asst email
Alamance Anthony E. Foriest 301-1446 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Buncombe Martin L. Nesbitt 715-3001 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Cabarrus Fletcher L. Hartsell 733-7223 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Carteret Jean R. Preston 733-5706 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Catawba Austin M. Allran 733-5876 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Chatham Robert Atwater 715-3036 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Cherokee John J. Snow 733-5875 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Columbus R. C. Soles 733-5963 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Cumberland Margaret H. Dickson 733-5776 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Cumberland Larry Shaw 733-9349 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Davie Andrew C. Brock 715-0690 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Duplin Charles W. Albertson 733-5705 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Durham Floyd B. McKissick 733-4599 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Edgecombe S. Clark Jenkins 715-3040 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Forsyth Linda Garrou 733-5620 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Gaston David W. Hoyle 733-5734 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Haywood Joe Sam Queen 733-3460 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Henderson Tom M. Apodaca 733-5745 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Johnston David Rouzer 733-5748 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Mecklenburg Daniel G. Clodfelter 715-8331 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Mecklenburg Charlie Smith Dannelly 733-5955 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Mecklenburg Bob Rucho 733-5655 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Moore Harris Blake 733-4809 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Nash A. B. Swindell 715-3030 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
New Hanover Julia Boseman 715-2525 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Onslow Harry Brown 715-3034 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Orange Eleanor Kinnaird 733-5804 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Randolph Jerry W. Tillman 733-5870 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Robeson Michael P. Walters 733-5651 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Rockingham Philip Edward Berger 733-5708 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Scotland William R. Purcell 733-5953 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Surry Don W. East 733-5743 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Union W. Edward Goodall 733-7659 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Wake Daniel T. Blue 733-5752 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Wake Neal Hunt 733-5850 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Wake Joshua H. Stein 715-6400 Dem [email protected] [email protected]
Wake Richard Y. Stevens 733-5653 Rep [email protected] [email protected]
Watauga Steve Goss 733-5742 Dem [email protected] [email protected]

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