Date: March 15th, 2017
Missouri's Leading ALEC Legislator Introduces Broadband Barrier Bill
Senator Emery (R-Lamar) is favoring big corporations over competition
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The chairman of ALEC's Missouri operation, State Senator Ed Emery, introduced a bill earlier this year that would limit the power of municipalities to provide competition on Internet service, instead favoring entrenched Internet Service Providers. SB 186 imposes unworkable restrictions on local governments to prevent "competitive service," which includes both retail and wholesale models - preventing municipalities from working with private sector partners.
Now it turns out this legislation may not just be a wrong-headed approach to fight against what Emery calls "wasted taxpayer dollars." A recent investigation by Stop the Cap revealed that Senator Emery received over $20,000 in donations from telecommunications companies who have a lot to gain by seeing SB 186's passage.
As Stop the Cap points out, Senator Emery's role as state ALEC chairman for Missouri ensures that he has signed a pledge to "put the interests of the[ir] organization first." He's certainly doing a fantastic job.
"This legislation is trying to cut off communities at every turn by limiting any sort of 'competitive service,' whether it comes from public broadband infrastructure investment or a public-private partnership," says Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "Missouri should be encouraging investment and local Internet choice, not working with monopoly lobbyists to prevent it."
Some 20 states have limits on local authority to build networks and Missouri is already one of them. This bill would further limit local Internet choice despite incredibly successful municipal networks across the state - that is why a number of tech companies in and outside of Missouri have spoken out against SB 186. Communities across Missouri are desperate for better connectivity and they deserve the freedom to build their networks as they see fit, not as the big telecom companies want them to.
SB 186 has already made it out of committee, and its harmful effects could be felt very soon. See ILSR's post mortem of last year's rejected bill, the identical HB 2078, and our continuing coverage at every step of the way.
About Christopher Mitchell:
Christopher Mitchell is the Diretor of the Community Broadband Networks initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell leads the acclaimed MuniNetworks.org as part of ILSR's effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them. He is a leading national expert on community networks, advising high-ranking broadband decision-makers and speaking on radio and television programs across the United States.
FOR MORE INFORMATION and to schedule an interview with Christopher, call Nick Stumo-Langer at 612-844-1330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.