Maine Legislation

Posted on February 19, 2007 - 5:06pm.

This page last updated 6/12/07

Maine Is First State in Nation to Pass Net Neutrality Resolve Resolution Recognizes Importance of Nondiscriminatory Access to the Internet

Contact: Shenna Bellows, 207-774-5444

Augusta- A diverse coalition of Mainers applauded the enactment today of the first net neutrality resolve in the nation. The resolution, LD 1675, recognizes the importance of “full, fair and non-discriminatory access to the Internet” and instructs the Public Advocate to study what can be done to protect the rights of Maine internet users.

"Maine is the first state in the nation to stand up for its citizens' rights to a nondiscriminatory internet," said Senator Ethan Strimling, the original sponsor of LD 1675. "The rest of the nation should follow suit and study what can be done to protect net neutrality."

“Maine is once again leading the way in protecting the rights of its citizens,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “This resolution will help re-establish the internet as the free and open arena of democracy it was always intended to be.”

Advocates say that restoring net neutrality is essential to protecting the right of internet users to access the information they choose. "Net neutrality principles are key to keeping control of the internet in the hands of the people," said Chellie Pingree. "With this resolution, the Legislature has put the needs of Mainers before the needs of the telecomm companies."

"This important legislation puts Maine first in affirming that Internet providers should not be allowed to discriminate by speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination,” said Tony Vigue of the Community Television Association of Maine.

Small business owners and members of the technology industry say net neutrality is good for Maine business because it allows small businesses to compete online with large corporations. Having net neutrality principles in place would make Maine an attractive place to launch tech industry start-ups. "Maine's place in the digital economy is pivotal to future economic growth,” said Lance Dutson, founder of “This resolution will allow us to see more clearly what safeguards are needed to allow Maine businesses to thrive in this new arena."

“With a free and open internet young people are able to start businesses that compete in the global marketplace from their homes in Maine,” said Brian Hiatt, Maine Director of Communications and Online Organizing for The League of Young Voters. “Net Neutrality levels the playing field for Mainers.”

As a result of a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality principles, which had been in place since the inception of the internet, were put in jeopardy. Following that decision, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe proposed legislation to reinstate net neutrality at the federal level. Maine’s resolution emphasizes the importance of net neutrality to Snowe’s home state and could provide the impetus for her to refocus attention on the issue.

“I am delighted at this resolution’s potential for positive effect on Maine and the rest of the U.S. I look forward to reading the Public Advocate's study on Network Neutrality,” said Fletcher Kittredge, Founder and CEO of GWI, Maine’s largest Internet Service Provider.

Advocates agree that passage of the net neutrality resolution is a giant step forward. “This is a victory for everyone who uses the Internet in Maine," said Jon Bartholomew, National Media and Democracy Organizer for Common Cause. "Every Mainer who uses the web for business, to find information or to speak their minds should thank the legislature for listening to them over the giant telecommunication firms.”

The full text of the resolution follows.

Amend the bill by striking out the title and substituting the following:

‘Resolve, Regarding Full, Fair and Nondiscriminatory Access to the Internet’

Amend the bill by striking out everything after the title and before the summary and inserting the following:

‘Preamble. Whereas, the Legislature finds that the development and continued enhancement of advanced communications technology in the State is vital to economic development; and

Whereas, full, fair and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet is critical to the ability of Maine citizens to participate in the information economy and is an important element of citizens’ access to information necessary to their roles as informed participants in our nation’s democracy; and

Whereas, regulation of the Internet is generally viewed as principally a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government; and

Whereas, the interests of the State of Maine and its citizens must be vigorously protected; now, therefore, be it

Sec. 1 Monitoring state and federal activity relating to Internet access regulations. Resolved: That the Office of the Public Advocate shall take the following actions to monitor and review state and federal activity on issues relating to full, fair and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet. The Office of the Public Advocate shall:

1. Evaluate the actions of the Federal Communications Commission, the United States Congress and other appropriate agencies of government with respect to ensuring that citizens’ rights to full, fair and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet are not impeded;

2. Monitor the Federal Communication Commission’s inquiry into broadband industry practices, FCC-07-31, WC Docket No. 07-52;

3. Collect information on legislative and regulatory actions of other states on these issues;

4. Review the State’s telecommunications and technology policies, including the ConnectME Authority established pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 35-A, section 9203, and evaluate the extent to which those policies are encouraging adequate investment in technology infrastructure to support a strong Internet system and continued expansion of broadband access in this State; and

5. Review the extent of the State’s authority to protect the rights of users of the Internet in the State to full, fair and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet; and be it further

Sec. 2 Report. Resolved: That, no later than February 1, 2008, the Office of the Public Advocate shall submit a report summarizing the results of its activities under section 1 to the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy.’


This amendment replaces the bill with a resolve. The amendment directs the Office of the Public Advocate to take several actions to monitor state and federal activity relating to full and fair access to the Internet. The amendment requires the Office of the Public Advocate to submit a report summarizing the results of its activities to the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy by February 1, 2008.

Bill Number(s):

Withdrawn Jan. 2006

• State authorized franchise effective 9/1/2006, or upon expiration of an existing franchise, whichever is later
• Local gov’t retains police powers and rights-of-way
• Creates a Maine Cable Franchise Board, which becomes LFA.
• 4% franchise fee based on a robust “gross revenues” definition goes to city.
• 1% of franchise fee goes to the state board
• Talks about build out, but provides no standard.
• Requires up to 3 PEG channels and establishes a PEG capital support obligation on state franchise holder, but the fee is blank in the proposed legislation.
• Permits negotiated franchises at lesser terms than that set by Board

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