telecom reform bill dies
May 4, 2012
Senate committee shelved sweeping telecom reform legislation
Friday, ending an attempt to overhaul Colorado’s
telecom rules and phase out $54 million in subsidies to phone
The Senate Appropriations Committee postponed the bill
indefinitely, eliminating its chance of passage in the waning
days of the current lawmaking session.
It was the second consecutive year telecommunications
reform proposals have been defeated.
The bipartisan proposal, Senate Bill 157, would have
phased out state subsidies for rural landlines by 2025,
gradually eliminating a $54 million fund paid for through a 2.9
percent fee on residential phone bills in
The bill proposed shifting some of the landline subsidy
money to a new state program designed to pay for rural broadband
projects in underserved areas.
CenturyLink Inc., the state’s largest local phone
company, fought the bill, saying it unfairly targeted its
landlines for the loss of subsidies, for which CenturyLink
received more than $50 million in 2011. Losing the subsidies
would force the company to cut hundreds of jobs, it said.
Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink bought Denver-based Qwest
A combination of pressure from CenturyLink and questions
about the broadband fund sapped the momentum of the reform bill,
which its sponsors called the most important legislation in this
year’s session aside from the state budget.
Sen. Mark Scheffel, a Republican from Parker, who
co-sponsored the legislation, blamed Demorats for the bill’s
“I am disappointed that the Senate Democrat leadership let
politics derail a long-overdue reform that would have lowered
the surcharge on phones and returned millions of dollars to
hardworking Coloradans,” he said in a statement. “They should
have allowed the bill to be debated on its merits.”