House Votes to Save Bans on City Internet Service

Republicans want to stop the FCC from preempting state laws.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
July 16, 2014, 12:12 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans passed le­gis­la­tion Wed­nes­day to keep the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion from over­turn­ing state bans on city-owned In­ter­net pro­viders.

The vote is a warn­ing shot at the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion, which has been mulling tak­ing ac­tion against states that re­strict mu­ni­cip­al broad­band ser­vice.

Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn, a Ten­ness­ee Re­pub­lic­an, spear­headed the amend­ment that would bar the FCC from us­ing any funds to pre­vent states from im­pos­ing lim­its on city broad­band. The amend­ment, which is at­tached to a fisc­al 2015 spend­ing bill, passed mostly along party lines in a 223-200 vote.

Black­burn’s home state of Ten­ness­ee would be a likely first tar­get for FCC ac­tion.

Chat­tanooga, Tenn., has rolled out a high-speed fiber In­ter­net net­work for its res­id­ents. The ser­vice, called “Gig City,” of­fers speeds about 50 times faster than the na­tion­al av­er­age for about $70 per month.

A state law, however, is keep­ing the city from ex­pand­ing the ser­vice to oth­er com­munit­ies that want it, ac­cord­ing to the city’s may­or.

In a blog post last month, FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er said broad­band pro­jects like the one in Chat­tanooga are bring­ing new com­pet­i­tion and spur­ring eco­nom­ic growth. He ar­gued that loc­al gov­ern­ments “shouldn’t be stopped by state laws pro­moted by cable and tele­phone com­pan­ies that don’t want that com­pet­i­tion.”

“I be­lieve that it is in the best in­terests of con­sumers and com­pet­i­tion that the FCC ex­er­cises its power to pree­mpt state laws that ban or re­strict com­pet­i­tion from com­munity broad­band,” he said. “Giv­en the op­por­tun­ity, we will do so.”

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.

Re­pub­lic­ans ar­gue the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shouldn’t pree­mpt state de­cisions on the is­sue and that the pro­jects of­ten waste tax­pay­er money.

What We're Following See More »
WORDS AND PICTURES
White House Looks Back on bin Laden Mission
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
NO BATTLE OVER SEATTLE
SCOTUS Won’t Hear Appeal of Minimum-Wage Law
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a sweeping constitutional challenge to Seattle’s minimum wage law, in what could have been a test case for future legal attacks on similar measures across the country. In a one-line order, the justices declined to hear a case by the International Franchise Association and a group of Seattle franchisees, which had said in court papers that the city’s gradual wage increase to $15 discriminates against them in a way that violates the Constitution’s commerce clause."

Source:
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION IN JUNE
DC to Release Draft Constitution as Part of Statehood Push
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"The New Columbia Statehood Commission—composed of five District leaders including Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and D.C.'s congressional delegation—voted today to publicly release a draft of a new constitution for an eventual state next Friday, at the Lincoln Cottage." It's the first step in a statehood push this year that will include a constitutional convention in June and a referendum in November.

Source:
ALZHEIMER’S OUTCRY
Will Ferrell Bails on Reagan Movie
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Amid outcry by President Reagan's children, actor Will Ferrell has pulled out of a movie that makes light of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease. A spokesperson for Ferrell said, “The ‘Reagan’ script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means an ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project."

Source:
×