Telecom bill to be tabled

Democrats have told State Street Wire that the telecom deregulation bill  (S2664) set for a vote in the Senate later this afternoon will be tabled.

Officially, Democrats have not said why the bill was pulled, but sources say the party has not yet received assurances from the governor that he will sign the bill in its current form and are wary of a conditional veto that would embarrass the caucus with New Jersey’s consumers. 

Sponsors also are working with the AARP to eliminate some of the group’s concerns over potential price increases on landlines.

The bill, which would largely deregulate the cable and landline phone industries, has been the subject of fierce debate since its introduction earlier this year.  Verizon has lobbied extensively in favor of the legislation, saying it would abolish archaic rules, while a group that includes organized labor, the AARP, the New Jersey League of Municipalities and Citizen Action launched an all-out offensive against the measure, claiming it will dramtically raise rates for the average phone consumer.

A spokesman for Verizon did not return a call or email for comment on the sudden tabling of the bill.

The Assembly has already pased the measure with bi-partisan support, but earlier today, Sen. Bob Smith said he planned to propose amendments to the bill.

Telecom bill to be tabled