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North Carolina S.1209 Final Wrap-Up — Prepare for Stage Two of the Battle

Senator Queen worked hard to try and strip the one year moratorium out of Senator Hoyle's anti-consumer bill

With the League of Municipalities essentially cutting a deal to sit on a municipal broadband study group that includes no actual consumers, voting for big telecom’s favorite bill of the year became a no-brainer.  It was a real shame to see the voting results on S.1209, despite pleas from consumers and some of North Carolina’s most rural representatives demanding to keep the municipal broadband option open.  They understand reality — while a handful of politicians in Raleigh cash big corporate contribution checks from the cable and phone companies, those out in the rural real world live with the results — no broadband.

We don’t need a one year moratorium on municipal broadband.  If the state government wants to study the issue, so be it, but a one year suspension on municipal broadband is a stall technique that big telecom providers are celebrating across the state.

Residents across North Carolina owe Sen. Joe Sam Queen a special thank-you for leading the charge for better broadband for rural residents.  He offered an amendment that would let the study go forward, but stripped out the anti-consumer moratorium.

Mark Binker of the Greensboro News & Record explained what happened next:

During the debate Monday night, Sen. Joe Sam Queen, a Waynesville Democrat, offered an amendment to allow the study to go forward but remove the moratorium.

Sen. David Hoyle, a Dallas Democrat and the Rules Committee chairman, offered a substitute amendment that essentially altered the bill’s language a bit but kept the moratorium around. Hoyle is one of the bill’s primary architects.

“We do not need a moratorium on the expansion of broadband across North Carolina,” Queen said. “This will only pour cold water on a very innovative sector.”

Now for a word on substitute amendment: When a substitute amendment is offered and accepted, it has the effect of wiping out the first amendment, which then can’t be offered again during the debate. It’s a way of doing away with things that the majority really doesn’t want to vote on.

During the past five years, I’ve mostly seen it used in the Senate my Democratic leaders to do away with Republican amendments they view as noxious – typically politically charged measures that could be awkward votes for rank and file members. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Dem on Dem substitute amendment.

I don’t know what, if any, conclusion can be drawn other than Hoyle was going to make darned sure his bill went through as is. Vote for the final measure was 41-7.

When big telecom pays the way, Senator Hoyle knows their needs must be met at all costs, no matter that his transparent shilling for the industry steamrolls over his fellow Democrats.  Besides, with his retirement looming (we’ll be watching to see where he lands next), who cares if his constituents are upset?  Certainly not Hoyle.

Fifteen Senate members stood against Hoyle’s ridiculous moratorium and deserve some recognition as well:

Senator(s): Allran, Atwater, Boseman, Dickson, Dorsett, Foriest, Goss, Jones, Kinnaird, McKissick, Purcell, Queen, Shaw, Snow, and Vaughan

Courtesy of Mark Turner, here is the audio from the Senate floor debate over S.1209 and the arguments for and against a municipal broadband moratorium. (June 7, 2010) (30 minutes)
You must remain on this page to hear the clip, or you can download the clip and listen later.

Tomorrow, the fight in the House begins with a call to action to start flooding members of the House Ways and Means/Broadband Connectivity Committee with calls and e-mails.  In the short House session, there are plenty of opportunities for us to derail this anti-consumer gift to the state’s cable and phone companies.  I’ll have a contact list up tomorrow.

Currently there are 3 comments on this Article:

  1. Matt says:

    And onward we go. At least a few are standing firm.

    • Jay Ovittore says:

      I would say 15 stood tall against the moratorium out of 48 Senators that were in attendance. That sends a clear message to the House that this moratorium is toxic and consumers/voters will hold you accountable come November.

  2. Ryan says:

    Thanks for posting these contact lists. Internet service in North Carolina has, in my experience, been lacking. I’d like to see real competition among ISPs. If it takes a municipality to offer a competitive option, I’ll support the municipality.

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