Telecommunications & Computer Technology

 

HB 1071 (Voskuhl/Easley): Was vetoed, as was a similar bill the year before. The bill would have created a Rural Telephone Rule Advisory Council to guide the Corporation Commission in modifying its rules relating to extended area service (EAS) or wide area calling plans (WACP). In his veto message both years, the Governor cited a preference for leaving the matter in the hands of the Corporation Commission. (VETOED)

HB 1434 (Deutschendorf/Robinson): Requires state agencies facing a "Millennium 2000" problem to complete their conversion work by January 1, 1999. They are then to file, by July 1, 1999, a report concerning any problems which persist.

HB 1690 (Perry/Robinson): Creates a 22-member Task Force on Electronic Signature Technology. Deadlines for recommendations are December 1, 1997, to legislative committees, and January 1, 1998, for final report to the Governor, etc. The Task Force then continues meeting throughout the 1998 Session, terminating on July 1, 1998.

HB 1815 (Adair/Robinson): Caps rates for basic telephone service provided by Southwestern Bell and GTE, requiring legislative approval before basic rates can be increased. On non-basic or "enhanced" services, such as Caller ID, it leaves rate approvals (both increases and decreases) with the Corporation Commission. The bill also reduces intrastate long distance charges, requiring that the reductions be passed along to the customers.

The bill repeals prior alternative regulation authority and gives the Corporation Commission new power to establish alternative regulation. Meanwhile, the rate-of-return regulated companies stay on the traditional regulatory regime. For Southwestern Bell, the moratorium on Commission-initiated rate reviews that might find earnings to be inconsistent with rate-of-return allowances and thereby lead to changes in rates (probably down but possibly up), is extended until February 5, 2001. The bill creates an Oklahoma Universal Service Fund intended to ensure support for the policy that all citizens should have access to basic phone service at affordable rates. The bill also broadens the subsidy allowing poor persons to keep phone service, provides a considerable sum of money (paid by all telecommunications companies including wireless) for training teachers in the use of technology, and establishes another sizable fund for equipment to make enhanced 911 services available across the state.

 

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