HB 2108 Up In VA Committee Tomorrow

Friends of Municipal Broadband are asking citizens who want the state to improve connectivity in Virginia to attend a hearing of the House Commerce and Labor Committee tomorrow, Feb. 2nd. They want Virginians to speak out against HB 2108, affectionately known as “Byron’s Bad Broadband Bill.”

As we reported last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe recognized the failings of the bill that would effectively put an end to local control of high-quality Internet access options. He threatened to veto it in its original form, so its sponsor and telecom industry darling Del. Kathy Byron revised the bill and removed it from the Jan. 26th agenda. She requested the committee take up the revision at tomorrow’s hearing, scheduled for 30 minutes after the close of Session.

Meeting Prep

Friends of Municipal Broadband has kept a close eye on the bill and its movement through the legislature. They’ve prepared a press packet, made available a detailed legal analysis, and arranged a press conference so local officials and representatives from potential private sector partners could comment.

They’ve prepared some talking points on the revised edition:

The new version of HB 2108 removes ALL FOIA exemptions related to municipal broadband. It also includes a number of duplicative line items to address issues that are already covered in existing code. 

This means that:

  • We won’t be able to protect our customers proprietary information, security protocols, and expansion plans
  • Competitors in the private sector will have access to every operating detail, strategy, and growth plan for our municipal networks
  • Standard Industry Contracts will no longer be able to be negotiated on a case by case basis. This cuts off our ability to attract last mile providers and leverage competitive pressure to limit monopolistic practices and drive down end-user costs
  • Additional conduit would be subject to nondiscriminatory access clauses meaning we could be required to turn over our network expansion capacity to incumbent providers

For people who wish to attend, the committee meeting will be held in Hearing Room D, First Floor of the General Assembly Building in Richmond. Friends of Municipal Broadband asks that you arrive a little before 1 p.m. so you have time to park and please confirm room assignments as they may change at the last minute.

If you can't make the meeting but still want to comment to the Commerce and Labor Committee Members, you can see there contact information on the General Assembly website.