States Would Sue to Kill City Internet Service

State legislatures threatened to take the FCC to court to protect restrictions on municipal broadband networks.

Laying down fiber-optic cable in Louisville, CO. 
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
July 23, 2014, 8:50 a.m.

A group rep­res­ent­ing state le­gis­latures is threat­en­ing to sue to pro­tect re­stric­tions on city-run In­ter­net net­works, claim­ing the pro­jects of­ten waste tax­pay­er money.

The Na­tion­al Con­fer­ence of State Le­gis­latures sent a let­ter Tues­day to the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion, say­ing it would file a con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenge against any fed­er­al ac­tion to pree­mpt state laws lim­it­ing mu­ni­cip­al broad­band.

“Aside from the con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenges, such an at­tempt dis­reg­ards the count­less hours of de­lib­er­a­tion and votes cast by loc­ally elec­ted law­makers across the coun­try and sup­plants it with the im­pulses of a five-mem­ber ap­poin­ted body in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.,” the group wrote.

FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er has said he may strike down state laws that re­strict the abil­ity of cit­ies to build their own In­ter­net net­works. Such laws stifle com­pet­i­tion and of­ten leave con­sumers with slower In­ter­net ac­cess, Wheel­er claims.

In a blog post last month, Wheel­er ar­gued that loc­al gov­ern­ments “shouldn’t be stopped by state laws pro­moted by cable and tele­phone com­pan­ies that don’t want that com­pet­i­tion.”

Tele­com and cable com­pan­ies have been lob­by­ing for the state re­stric­tions around the coun­try, ar­guing that it’s not fair for them to com­pete with gov­ern­ment-owned In­ter­net pro­viders. The com­pan­ies claim the city pro­jects dis­cour­age private in­vest­ment and are of­ten ex­pens­ive fail­ures.

In the let­ter to the FCC, the state le­gis­lat­ive group said it shares Wheel­er’s “as­pir­a­tion that every Amer­ic­an have ac­cess to broad­band,” but that it was reas­on­able for 21 states to en­act laws to pre­vent waste­ful pro­jects.

The group urged Wheel­er to “heed the prin­ciples of fed­er­al­ism” and cau­tioned him of “the nu­mer­ous de­cisions by the United States Su­preme Court with re­gard to the re­la­tion­ship between the state and its polit­ic­al sub­di­vi­sions.”

If the FCC tries to strike down a state law, it would likely point to Sec­tion 706 of the Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions Act, which gives the agency the au­thor­ity to pro­mote the de­ploy­ment of broad­band. State laws that re­strict mu­ni­cip­al broad­band could be in vi­ol­a­tion of that pro­vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to the FCC.

House Re­pub­lic­ans ap­proved an amend­ment to an ap­pro­pri­ations bill last week to bar the FCC from pree­mpt­ing state broad­band laws. The pro­vi­sion, however, is un­likely to pass the Sen­ate.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×