Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: February 16, 2010

Sweeden Calls Corporation Commission’s Toll-Free Calling Proposal a New Tax

Sen. Joe Sweeden on Tuesday voiced opposition to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s new statewide toll-free calling proposal saying that while it might sound like a good idea, there is more to the proposal than meets the eye.

The Corporation Commission recently debated the plan, which would make all in-state calls in Oklahoma toll-free. Under the proposal, regulators estimate that users would pay an extra $2 for every phone number they use, regardless of whether they make long distance calls or not. The same estimates suggest that telephone service carriers could lose $118 million if the plan is enacted.

“It’s difficult to understand how this can be billed as a ‘free’ plan when users would see an estimated $2 increase for phone service,” said Sweeden, D-Pawhuska. “At a time when both families and businesses are struggling through a recession, we cannot afford what amounts to a new tax. It’s an unnecessary intervention that would cost Oklahoma businesses millions of dollars every year.”

The Corporation Commission is expected to vote on the proposal at a March 29 meeting. Sweeden said the proposal mandates an across-the-board fee regardless of how companies use communications technology.

“This unnecessary intervention would come at a substantial cost to Oklahoma businesses,” Sweeden said. “Given current economic conditions, it’s alarming that such a proposal could gain serious consideration. I’m encouraging members of the Commission to reconsider this plan.”

For more information contact:
Sen. Sweeden: 405-521-5581