Cities' Victory in Texas Legislature Provides Insight into National Telecommunications Debate

Article excerpt

As a result of a months-long battle in the halls of the Texas legislature, cities in the state avoided two telecommunications proposals that would have been detrimental to them--a proposal to further and drastically restrict municipal broadband and a proposal to remove cities from cable television franchising in favor of a statewide franchise.

The Texas House and Senate were unable to compromise on two telecommunications bills, effectively killing the two provisions that would have been detrimental to cities.

Cities proved to be fierce advocates.

Representative Phil King, the Texas bill's sponsor, told the Wall Street Journal, "When all the members start hearing from their city councils, that's a pretty powerful lobby."

The impact of the Texas decision is being felt nationwide because some observers pointed to the outcome as a trendsetter for the nation.

In particular, because the nation's largest telephone company, SBC, is based in Texas, many believed the telephone companies would score a strong victory.

Snapper Carr, legislative counsel for the Texas Municipal League, described the league's successful strategy.

"Most of the members were persuaded this proposal was moving too much too fast, and that it was not well thought out," Cart said. "Texas prides itself on its public lands. The members of the legislature realized we were making precedent-setting changes without the necessary review and deliberation."

Large telephone and cable companies have been lobbying state-by-state across the country asking for state-level video franchising and to restrict municipalities from offering broadband. …