League thanks Senate for tabling dereg measure, warns members bill will return

New Jersey League of Municipalities Executive Director Bill Dressel today applauded the Senate for tabling a measure that would have deregulated large portions of the telecommunications industry.

The league is fervently opposed to the measure, and had lobbied hard over the last month to derail it.

“The League thanks the Senate President for tabling S2664 today,” Dressel said in a statement. “Although the proponents of the bill advertised it as creating jobs and investment, municipal governments argued successfully that those laudable goals did not require gutting a very good cable franchise law that is currently in place. We hope in the future when industries believe regulatory reform is needed; they will take the time to work with all stakeholders impacted to create legislation that represents a consensus that can benefit everyone.”

The bill was heavily supported by Verizon officials, who said the bill was designed to spark competition, jobs and investment in the state by removing century-old laws governing the industry.

League officials and other opponents countered that the bill would result in the loss of benefits to municipalities, including the requirement for cable franchises to provide cable and internet connections to all municipal buildings, libraries and emergency response facilities at no charge to a municipality and the removal of a requirement to provide live feed of municipal events.

Dressel, along with Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler, who is chairman of the League telecommunications committee, warned the group’s members that the bill is not dead.

“Due in no small part to mayors raising their collective voices, today the Senate tabled S-2664. This legislation already passed the Assembly and would deregulate the phone and cable TV industry and hurt municipalities. We anticipate the Senate will not consider this legislation again until later this spring. Municipal action will again be important at that time,” the two said in an email blast to state mayors. League thanks Senate for tabling dereg measure, warns members bill will return