The Quorum Report quotes Rep. Phil King offering a eulogy for HB789.
Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) confirms negotiations on House Bill 789 and Senate Bill 743 have broken down irretrievably, with no hope of negotiating either bill.
HB 789 was the telecommunications deregulation bill. King said the House and Senate could not come to a compromise on the statewide franchise for telecommunications services, which the House favored and the Senate did not.
SB 743 was the electric bill. King said the two sides could not agree on several fronts, including the goals for renewable energy. The two sides had a different framework for emerging technologies.
King said the two sides gave up when it was apparent the conference committee report could not be printed and distributed by midnight.
"It's over; it's over," Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, the champion of the proposal, said Saturday night as it became clear that there was no chance the legislation would get to a House vote by the midnight deadline.
"The problem is, we are out of time," said Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, who led Senate opposition to the plan.
Cable companies and a coalition of Texas cities also fought the proposal, which would have allowed SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. to get a single statewide franchise for their planned Internet television service instead of negotiating scores of agreements with individual cities, as cable companies do.
The failure of the measure is a rare defeat for SBC, one of the most powerful lobby forces in the Legislature. The company's chief executive, Ed Whitacre, personally visited the Capitol this week to push for the measure, King and Fraser said.
In another defeat for SBC, the clock ran out on legislation that would have allowed it and other major phone companies to set their own local phone rates. The House and Senate could not reconcile sharply different approaches on how to end state rate controls.
Friday night, Fraser, King, SBC and cable industry executives and representatives from the Texas Municipal League started intense talks in an effort to reach a compromise.
Fraser's idea was to allow the statewide franchise but require SBC and Verizon to provide public access channels and other services, as cable companies do. King balked, in part because Fraser proposed that the franchise last only two years, allowing legislators to adjust the plan in the next session.
"What company is going to invest billions of dollars for two years?" King said.
The talks ended early Saturday morning. SBC lobbyists then met off and on all day with staffers for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
The stalemate on the television proposal also derailed measures to encourage wind power generation in Texas and allow electric companies to offer high-speed Internet connections over power lines. So-called safety net legislation assures the continuance of the utility commission.
Links via Save Muni Wireless, which has been an invaluable resource - sometimes the only resource - for following this issue. Major kudos to Adina and Chip for their tireless efforts. Rep. King says he'll be back in two years to try again, so y'all may want to maintain the domain registration for next time.
UPDATE: As Adina notes in the comments, both telecom bills (HB789 and HB3179) are dead. It was a little hard to tell which bills the stories were referring to towards the end there.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 29, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack