I was just informed the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Energy and Utilities will hold a hearing on March 8, 2012, 10 am at the State House, Hearing Room A-1 on House Bill HB3558, another Bill designed to have a negative impact on the cable franchising process. I ask you to take action and oppose this Bill.
As you might be aware, several bills with similar language have been sponsored, on Verizon's behalf, over the past few years. This bill, among other things, proposes to substantially reduce the cable licensing timetable for municipal licensing authorities, providing for municipalities to commence negotiations within ten days of receiving a license application; hold a hearing within ninety days of receipt of application; and approve or deny within only five days of the public hearing. This is a ridiculous proposal. The current licensing process allows a three year timeline to complete the process. While the current process may need amending, the current proposal of House Bill HB3558 is utterly nonsense.
Recently, the Town of Billerica negotiated cable franchises with Comcast and Verizon. The franchises were initiated November 3, 2009 and October 5, 2009 and took almost three years to complete. The timetable proposed in HB3558 wouldn't be ample to set a meeting date between a cable provider and a volunteer municipal committee let alone negotiate the complex points of a cable franchise. The language proposed in House Bill HB3558 is absurd.
This bill, as well as past bills submitted on Verizon's behalf, concerns me as the entire cable franchising process is supposed to be based upon negotiations, more specifically between local municipalities and cable providers, but Verizon's actions of repeatedly proposing legislature with the same absurd language makes me believe any negotiation by Verizon is disingenuous; it appears to be their way or no way.
I hope you will join me and oppose House Bill HB3558. Please call or email your Representatives and Senators and ask them to oppose House Bill HB3558.