Mississippi - Lt. Gov. Reeves: Oppose House Bill No. 366 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Mississippi - Lt. Gov. Reeves: Oppose House Bill No. 366

January 23, 2019

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves
State Capitol
Jackson, MS 39201

Dear Lieutenant Governor Reeves,

On behalf of the 10,639 members of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Mississippi, I urge you to oppose House Bill No. 366.  Enactment of this legislation would fail to protect taxpayers, encourage overbuilding of broadband infrastructure, and harm broadband investment.

The need to bridge the digital divide, especially in rural areas, is significant.  However, the nation is littered with examples of failed government-supported or-operated efforts to improve broadband access.  While House Bill No. 366 would allow electric cooperatives to provide broadband services, built on top their existing infrastructure, the legislation is missing several important measures to protect taxpayer resources from being wasted. 

Funds meant to assist broadband construction in areas where it is truly needed should not instead be used to interfere with broadband where it is already present.  House Bill No. 366 could lead to such a situation in Mississippi.  Government loans and grants issued to electric cooperatives must include robust protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to overbuild existing broadband infrastructure.  This bill does not contain such protections.

House Bill No. 366 also harms investment in broadband by requiring the payment of burdensome pole attachment fees to the electric cooperatives that own the poles.  In recent years, many states have adopted commonsense reforms that streamline the pole attachment fee process in a way that enhances competition and investment.  This bill does the opposite.

If the state of Mississippi is going to permit electric cooperatives to provide broadband services with taxpayer dollars, significant changes must be made to House Bill 366 before it is enacted by the legislature.   

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Schatz

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