HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania State Grange applauds the Senate Professional Licensure & Consumer Protection Committee for its favorable reporting of Senate Bill 1112 sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips- Hill from York County. The September 22, 2020, committee vote was 12-1.
The bill seeks to update Pennsylvania’s regulatory oversight over Public Utility Commission-regulated rural telephone systems. “Despite society’s overall reliance on Broadband, land-line telephones still remain a lifeline for many in rural Pennsylvania for the simple reason that they do not have access to wireless high-speed Broadband”, said Grange President Wayne Campbell.
“This lack for many people means no access to Telemedicine which is critical in these COVID-19 days. This lack means limited ability to engage in commerce during the COVID-19 business shutdown”, he stressed. “The COVID-19 crisis has illustrated the continuing necessity for land-line telephones until the day PA reaches the goal of universal access to high-speed Broadband. Even then, the utility poles may be the means by which to run the needed cable to provide that access.”
Senate Bill 1112 removes regulatory administrative and other compliance cost barriers which now inhibit rural telephone companies from developing and providing Broadband capabilities. Campbell said that impediments to Broadband expansion should be addressed but that core functions of the PUC should be retained.
Important to the Pennsylvania State Grange are the bill’s provisions to retain PUC authority over handling consumer service complaints and continuing to meet universal service needs. Following is a link to the legislation: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/bill_history.cfm?syear=2019&sind=0&body=S&type=B&bn=1112
–Pennsylvania State Grange