On Thursday, November 21st, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Telecommunications Market Competition Act (HB 1608). It was a productive hearing that provided policymakers and Pennsylvanians an opportunity to hear the merits of the bill from a range of coalition members and community partners. Several coalition partners submitted written testimony expressing their support for the bill.
The sponsor of the legislation, Representative Warren Kampf, explained the idea behind his efforts noting how the legislation brings Pennsylvania’s regulatory environment in-line with where the competitive marketplace and consumers have already taken us. Members of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Innovation & Competition also testified in support of the bill. They addressed the hyperbolic claims and misinformation that had been perpetuated by some of the reform bill’s opponents. More specifically, they noted that states across the country have taken similar steps to modernize their telecommunications laws and emphasized the need for Pennsylvania to do the same to remain competitive. Coalition members also reiterated that HB 1608 would preserve important consumer protections like Public Utility Commission oversight of rates and service quality.
Some of the most compelling testimony was delivered by Indiana State Senator Brandt Hershman who recounted efforts his Legislature took to enact similar legislation. The state’s number one priority was to promote economic development and job growth so he and his colleagues embarked on an effort toward that priority. Senator Hershman told the Committee that there were some contentious discussions about the reform bill in Indiana, but it was a bipartisan effort nonetheless. According to the Senator, the enactment of the legislation led to a proliferation of investment in infrastructure improvements in Indiana by the telecommunications providers. He added that despite what some opponents argued at the time, there has not been a discontinuance of phone service in the state.
Another hearing is scheduled for Thursday, December 12th. The Pennsylvania Coalition for Innovation & Competition thanks Committee Chairman Bob Godshall for his leadership and tireless efforts to conduct hearings on this important issue so as to provide a venue for all viewpoints to be heard. A complete list of individuals and organizations who submitted testimony in support of HB 1608 can be found here:
- Tom McCall
- African-American Chamber of Commerce for Pennsylvania and New Jersey
- Tom Wheeler, President, Hulmeville Borough Council,
- William Whitehead
- Center for Victims
- Pittsburgh Film Office
- Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania
- Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce
- PennSuburban Chamber of Commerce
- East Pittsburgh Borough Council
- The Enterprise Center
- Embassy Bank
- ESC Company
- Bucks County Economic Development Corporation