LA Governor vetoes telco/cable bill

Posted on July 12, 2006 - 7:22pm.

This is good news, the first state franchise bill to fall by a veto from a governor. Should the telco bills stall in Congress we'll see more action like this at the state level. The LA Governor's statement can be downloaded at:

LA Governor vetoes cable bill, few appropriations
John Hill

BATON ROUGE – Gov. Kathleen Blanco has vetoed four special appropriations and the bill that would make it easier for telephone companies to offer digital television services in competition with cable operators.

House Speaker Joe Salter, D-Florien, said following a telephone conversation with the governor at mid-morning that she mentioned scratching four special appropriations and the cable competition bill that proponents said would lead to cheaper television services.

“I really don’t have any details,” said Salter, who is attending an education conference in Minnesota. “That’s about the extent of it based on my conversation with her.”

The governor’s office said she would announce specifics of her vetoes this afternoon along with statements outlining her reasoning for the vetoes.
State Rep. Billy Montgomery, D-Haughton, author of the cable competition bill, said he is very disturbed over the governor’s veto. Louisiana National Guard Brig. Gen. Hunt Downer, the governor’s legislative liaison, informed him of the veto around 11 a.m. today.

“I’m upset because of the importance of the bill,” Montgomery said. “The time she spent on it showed how important it is.”

The bill would have allowed telephone companies to offer broadband cable services in most markets without having to negotiate individual franchise agreement with local governments, which led to mayors and police jurors’ opposition.

“The fact that Cox Cable just raised its rates $3.43 a month in Baton Rouge without any regulation shows they need some competition,” Montgomery said. “The consumer was left out of the process. Helping the consumer was the main part of the bill.”

State Sen. Charles Jones, D-Monroe, who met with Blanco’s top staff late Tuesday night said Clarke assured him the $50 million in economic development allocations for his Northeast Louisiana area were intact, including $300,000 to the Northeast Economic Development Alliance to help market to a major manufacturer the 1,400 industrial mega site near Rayville that the budget allocates $4.6 million to purchase.

“Local citizens, elected officials and civic groups should applaud the governor for her courage and compassion,” Jones said.

Blanco, her chief of staff Jimmy Clarke and other staffers worked until midnight Tuesday, the constitutional deadline for her signing legislation, using her veto power to negate it or allowing a bill to become law without her signature.

The governor has line-item power over individual appropriations in the $27 billion general appropriations bill, as each individual allocation is on a single line in the document.
“We will be making the announcements this afternoon,” said Roderick Hawkins, the governor’s deputy press secretary.

Originally published July 12, 2006

( categories: LOUISIANA | State Franchises )