Will Governor Scott Veto a Telecom Bill That Strips Local Authority?

by | May 18, 2017

Veto Letter HB 687 5-18-2017

“Small” and “micro” are relative terms according to a letter sent to Governor Rick Scott related to 5G technology for the state of Florida.

Writing on behalf of Florida’s 412 municipalities, Florida League of Cities Executive Director Michael Sittig urged Governor Rick Scott to veto a bill that would deprive cities of their authority to regulate the use of public rights of way. Sittig explains, the bill may leave local government officials with minimal ability to control the aesthetics of their public rights of way, but it effectively hands significant control to the wireless industry.

CS/CS/HB 687 preempts city control of taxpayer-owned rights of way for the placement of “small” or “micro” wireless antennas and equipment, according to the wireless industry. But opponents say “small” or “micro” can actually be the size of a small refrigerator, and sets a maximum fee of $150 per year for each attachment.

Sittig believes that by setting an arbitrary and artificially low cap on the fee, cities could lose $50 million to $100 million a year in revenues they would otherwise receive if free-market rates were allowed to apply.

“Florida cities embrace the deployment of 5G technology in their communities; however, this bill offers deep discounts to multibillion dollar telecommunications companies at the taxpayers’ expense,” Sittig says in his letter to Scott.

Sittig also criticized the reasoning behind a handful of exemptions written into the bill, including ones for the Florida Department of Transportation and for The Villages, a provision he called “both illogical and ultimately indefensible.” He wrote, “Why should the FDOT be allowed to monetize the infrastructure in its rights of way but cities not be able to receive fair market value for city-owned infrastructure that the taxpayers have invested in?”

Finally, Sittig noted that the telecommunications industry has acknowledged that the technology to enable 5G communications will not be ready to be deployed until 2022, and asked, “Why rush and pass legislation that creates and undercuts city police powers? Rather, Florida should protect the free market.”

A copy of Sittig’s letter asking the governor to veto the bill is attached, above this article.



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