As previously reported on Conduit Street, MACo supported HB 563/SB 567, Telecommunications Taxes – Reform Commission and Moratorium with amendments. These bills would establish a 13 member Telecommunications Tax Reform Commission to assess the feasibility and fiscal implications for State and local governments of a competitively neutral telecommunications tax and fee system that encourages investment in broadband networks and eliminates the disparate treatment of similar telecommunications service providers. The bills would also impose a far-reaching moratorium on State and local governments imposing new, or raising existing, telecommunications taxes and fees.
During its testimony, MACo offered amendments to eliminate the moratorium; expand representation on the Commission; remove cable franchise and public, education, and government access channel (PEG) fees from the scope of the study commission; and extend the time frame of the Commission’s review. In a House Ways and Means subcommittee work session this week, the subcommittee approved an amended bill addressing MACo’s concerns. As amended, MACo has four representatives on the Commission, specific references to cable franchise and PEG fees have been removed, the timeframe for the Commission’s work has been extended to June 30, 2013, and the moratorium has been removed. The full Ways and Means Committee may vote on this amended bill today.