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Government

Veto Calls For Broadband Carrier Regulation Bill Overhaul

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Nearly 300,000 W.Va. households lack broadband connectivity

Gov. Jim Justice used his veto power to kill House Bill 4001, known as the broadband bill. That move sends it back to the West Virginia Legislature for reconsideration.

Justice said his veto comes after discovering regulation conflicts with the Federal Communication Act and concerns from broadband providers across the board along with many local government officials.

“I have directed the Department of Economic Development to work with legislative leadership, the sponsors of this bill, and all interested and knowledgeable parties to revisit and perfect this important legislation,” Justice said. “I will request the Legislature take up this important matter, with input from all interested parties, in the upcoming Special Session to make sure the deployment of broadband all over this state is as efficient and as successful as possible.”

The bill sponsor, Del. Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, said the bill mandates the mapping of environmental or historical infrastructure impacts when installing fiber optic cable above ground. He said it also safeguards customers from carriers passing on tax fees, charging for a paper bill instead of a digital bill or paying when service is out.

Linville said he hopes that key players revisiting the bill will still ensure consumer protections from excess fees.

“We're in a completely unregulated market related to the price of the internet services, so they can charge whatever it is that they wish,” Linville said. “The unfortunate thing is that they sort of give you one price, and then tack on a bunch of things that are non-governmentally imposed on the subscriber.”

Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael leads the state’s broadband expansion plan. He says the bill is not needed, that it over-regulates and contradicts already mandated and fair federal requirements.

Justice said he will request the legislature take up a revised broadband carrier regulation bill in the April special session.


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