Testimony Before Texas Committee on State Affairs- Support HB 3535 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Testimony Before Texas Committee on State Affairs- Support HB 3535

Oral Testimony of Deborah Collier
Director of Technology and Telecommunications Policy
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Before the
House Committee on State Affairs
Texas House of Representatives
Austin, Texas

April 1, 2019

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee,

My name is Deborah Collier, and I am the technology and telecommunications policy director for the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in government. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

On behalf of CCAGW and its 148,747 members and supporters in the state of Texas, I speak in support of passage of HB 3535, which will allow Texas to continue its leadership in providing its residents with next generation communications capabilities. The bill gives communications providers the ability to offer internet, telephone, and video services through a single line, without incurring duplicative or excessive taxes and fees.

Under current Texas law, telecommunications providers are required to pay twice for the same lines installed within the rights-of-way if both telephone and video services are provided through the same line. Providers must pay up to 6 percent of their gross revenues as a franchise fee in each city they serve to provide video service to Texas, in addition to the voice service fees imposed by municipalities for access to their right of way. The cost of these duplicative taxes is passed onto the consumers in the form of higher monthly bills.

HB 3535 will modernize communications rights-of-way law by eliminating duplicative taxes when a single line in the right-of-way is used for multiple purposes. This bill will still permit cities to charge for access to the rights-of-way, but rather than a separate fee for the video and voice services, providers will elect to pay the higher of the two fees in each local jurisdiction, thereby eliminating the duplicative tax.

Again, thank you for allowing me to voice the support of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste for HB 3535. I appreciate being here, and will answer any questions you may have.

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