Thanks to Chris Mitchell for the heads up on activity related to S.F. No. 2532: Municipal Telecommunications Services. The big deal is allowing local governments to provide telecommunications services with a simple majority of public support, rather than the super-majority that is currently required. (I wrote more about the issue last December.)
The change was introduced in the Senate on February 9, 2009:
1.7237.19 MUNICIPAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES.
1.8Any municipality shall have the right to own and operate a telephone exchange
1.9within its own borders, subject to the provisions of this chapter. It may construct such
1.10plant, or purchase an existing plant by agreement with the owner, or where it cannot agree
1.11with the owner on price, it may acquire an existing plant by condemnation, as hereinafter
1.12provided, but in no case shall a municipality construct or purchase such a plant or proceed
1.13to acquire an existing plant by condemnation until such action by it is authorized by
1.14a majority of the electors voting upon the proposition at a general election or a special
1.15election called for that purpose, and if the proposal is to construct a new exchange where
1.16an exchange already exists, it shall not be authorized to do so unless 65 percent a majority
1.17of those voting thereon vote in favor of the undertaking. A municipality that owns and
1.18operates a telephone exchange may enter into a joint venture as a partner or shareholder
1.19with a telecommunications organization to provide telecommunications services within
1.20its service area.
(This line was added to the end of the paragraph above in February: For the purpose of this section a “municipality” includes a county.)
Apparently many more changes were added in the latest version. Unfortunately, the Legislature web site has not yet been updated to reflect the new language, but Chris has posted a PDF version on his MuniNetworks blog. As you’ll see the new changes have a number of barriers or taxpayer protections (depending on which side you fall on the issue).
It’s definitely an issue to watch.