When local elected officials in Colorado put the issue before constituents last fall, voters in almost 50 communities chose overwhelmingly to reclaim local telecommunications authority. Colorado's state law that strips away local authority, SB 152, permits opt-out through referendum. Referendums are expensive for local communities, but at least they are a way to reclaim the power to decide their own future.
That ability to opt out will get more expensive and more burdensome if a new bill becomes law. Even though the state removed local authority with SB 152, this bill demonstrates that the legislature can still find a way to strip away more local control when big corporate providers feel threatened.
Local Leaders Concerned
SB 136, sponsored by Kerry Donovan, was introduced on March 4th under the guise of "modernizing" the dreaded SB 152. The bill is now waiting for a hearing in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. According to the Aspen Daily News, Pitkin County Commissioners are wary of the bill's consequences. So are we. Ninety-two percent of Pitkin County voters approved the opt-out of SB 152 last November, thereby reclaiming authority. The county has already completed a needs assessment and is obtaining bids for telecommunications infrastructure; they don't want this bill to derail their efforts.
Kara Sillbernagel, Pitkin County analyst, shared her interpretation with the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC):
...[A] concern is SB 136 could open the door to potential litigation in the opt-out process.
Silbernagel added that, in her opinion, the language complicates the issue away from the simple opt-out solution, and introduces terms which have left governments that opted out “feeling vulnerable.”
“[Concerns are that] it actually seems to be more restrictive for counties moving forward,” she said.
"Modernized" Language = "Modernized" Barriers...Read more