Archive: 2013 Session Overview

During the 83rd Legislative Session, TCA worked to pass several bills that will benefit Texas consumers and taxpayers ensuring the creation of new jobs, new capital investment and reducing the tax burden on consumers.

TAX EXEMPTION ON CERTAIN COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT: Texas chose not to follow the federal government’s approach to building out broadband networks, which provided inefficient taxpayer subsidies for often duplicative infrastructure.  Instead, Texas chose to encourage investment in its broadband infrastructure through the targeted and limited use of tax cuts.  A recent study found that Texas could significantly increase broadband network investment, increase gross state product, and create thousands of jobs by eliminating its sales tax on communications network equipment.  TCA, along with other telecommunications providers, advocated for a sales tax exemption on communications network equipment.
Legislation Passed: CSHB 1133 by Otto
Read April 24 opinion editorial in the Austin American-Statesman

POLE ATTACHMENTS: Lawmakers passed a unified agreement between the electric cooperatives and cable companies that will address cable and co-op pole attachment issues and reduce litigation costs that are burdensome on both parties.
Legislation Passed: HB 3355 by Cook

TOLL ROAD R.O.W. RELOCATION REIMBURSEMENT: TCA advocated for extending the program that allowed for utilities, cable, and telecommunications providers to receive a 50% reimbursement of their expenses when relocating facilities because of a toll road project.  This cost-sharing provision ensures right-of-way users and TxDOT both have “skin in the game” in the movement of infrastructure, which drives cost-efficient and effective planning decisions. TCA, along with other utilities, was able to permanently extend these provisions, originally set to expire 9/1/13.
Legislation Passed: HB 2585 by Harper-Brown

TEXAS UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND (TUSF) REFORM: TCA worked with large and small phone companies to create a statutory scheme that will require certain companies – for the first time in 15 years – to prove their financial need for taxpayer subsidies. The legislation also eliminated millions of dollars in “hidden” subsidies, known only to company insiders, that were being paid to one phone company for almost 20 years, as well as eliminating certain phone companies’ ability to get automatic subsidies from the state after reductions in federal subsidies. Learn more.
Legislation Passed: CSSB 583 by Carona


OTHER PRIORITY LEGISLATION 

CABLE SUBSCRIBER TAX CUTS: Texans are burdened with some of the highest cable and telecom taxes in the country – and cable video customers pay an average of over 14% in taxes and fees on their monthly cable bill. TCA is supporting legislative options to reduce the amount of sales taxes paid by cable customers. Learn more.
Legislation filed of interest: HB 1900 by Eiland and SB 1465 by Estes.
Read Austin Business Journal article about this legislation.