WI: Gov should have vetoed cable bill

Posted on January 7, 2008 - 11:03pm.

from: Capital Times

Gov should have vetoed cable bill

An editorial — 1/07/2008 9:59 am

Gov. Jim Doyle recognized that Assembly Bill 207, the plan to restructure cable regulations to favor AT&T and other big telecom companies, was flawed legislation.

That recognition led Doyle to veto substantial portions of the proposal that was crafted by AT&T lobbyists and that critics say was advanced by Republicans in the Assembly and Democrats in the Senate in order to satisfy the demands of big campaign donors.

For instance, Doyle rejected language that limited consumer protections and prohibited state agencies from drafting administrative rules regarding the new franchise application and revocation process. That was a needed change.

Additionally, the rights of municipalities and their taxpayers have been protected at least to some extent by requirements that video service providers continue to pay for use of public rights of way.

Unfortunately, those positive changes are insufficient to turn this special-interest legislation into sound public policy.

Instead of trying to tinker enough with the legislation to prevent some of the worst abuses, Doyle should have taken a stand for sound government and honest policymaking. To do that, he needed to veto the entire bill. In failing to do so, he failed not just consumers of cable television services but the governing process.

Legislation that is so obviously the product of lobbying pressure, rather than legislative deliberation, should never be allowed to become law.

There was no public support for this radical alteration of cable regulations.

There was no reason to believe that concerns about cable services would be sincerely or effectively addressed by this legislation.

And there was way, way, way too much special-interest money flowing into the campaign coffers of Doyle and legislators who backed the bill to inspire confidence that officials were doing right by Wisconsin.

( categories: State Franchises | WISCONSIN )