Last-minute compromise possible on lifting land-line requirements for phone companies, senator says

04/08/2014 09:11 AM

For the third consecutive session, proponents of a bill to further deregulate telephone service for Kentucky’s urban areas are trying to reach a last-minute deal before the clock runs out on the legislative session.

The sponsor of the legislation Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said he spent the last few weeks working with the Kentucky Cable Association among other parties to negotiate over the bill, which would eliminate the requirement for phone companies to lay land lines to new developments in communities with more than 15,000 people. (Disclosure: cn|2’s parent company, Time Warner Cable Co., is a member of the Kentucky Cable Association).

Hornback said there is a path forward for the bill — but not an amendments the leader of the state House recently attached.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has attached several amendments to the bill including the top priority for House Democrats — increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

Hornback said those amendments “don’t have any chance at all.”

“In fact if the bill came back with that amendment on there then it would not pass. it probably wouldn’t even be heard by the Senate,” Hornback said.

Senate Bill 99, which is nicknamed the AT&T bill, has been scaled back from previous years to apply only to communities with 15,000 people to ease concerns of rural lawmakers, who were afraid some of their constituents might end up with no phone service eventually because cell service can be spotty in rural areas.

Hornback said the bill is needed to take Kentucky into 21st century and compete with other states.

“Trying to make people realize that we have a company that’s a fortune 10 company here in the state – in the Commonwealth. We’ve already given tax credits to other fortune 10 companies in this budget that just passed,” Hornback said. “This is a fortune 10 company that wants to invest hundreds of millions in the state.”

Another piece of unfinished business for Hornback is provision he added late in the session to an existing agriculture bill which would add tougher penalties for people video taping farms and livestock without the permission of the owner.

Watch the video above for Hornback’s reasoning for the legislation which starts at 5:40 in the interview.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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