The Texas Cable Association had significant wins to celebrate when the 85th legislative session drew to a close on Monday, May 29. TCA worked to successfully protect the cable industry from unnecessary regulation and fees, chiefly in the areas of small cell deployment and Texas universal service funds. In addition to these priority bills, TCA also successfully lobbied against impact fees for cable in special purpose districts, and right-of-way liability and fees. Privacy and cybercrimes were also high priorities this session.
Among the Texas Cable Association’s legislative successes:
- Small cell legislation, Senate Bill 1004, now on its way to the governor, creates a new Section 284 in the Local Government Code to regulate deployment of small cell devices in the municipal right of way. The final version includes cable’s carefully negotiated language to protect cable providers from additional fees for right of way access, protects wireless access points, and ensures a level playing field for all entrants to the cable market place.
- TCA monitored a few bills on universal service fund. The most important among these, Senate Bill 586, focused on reforming the small carrier fund, will create a “mini-rate case” process to determine need for funds. As filed, the bill would have increased the size of TUSF fund $23-$28 million with no sunset date. TCA lobbied against the increase. The final bill now holds the rate steady, and reduced potential fund increases by 90 percent, or approximately $2 million. The bill will sunset in 2023, when the PUC is up for review.
- Privacy protection became a high priority mid-session. When the FCC announced in April that it would not implement Obama-era rules on ISP privacy, the states rushed to file legislation to protect customers’ private information. Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) filed such an amendment to the appropriations bill, Senate Bill 1. TCA worked with Anchia to address his concerns, pledged to work on the issue in the interim, and prevented passage of the amendment.
For more detailed information on any of these bills, or any legislation tracked by TCA this session, please contact TCA at (512) 474-2082, or [email protected].