Over the past several years the telecommunication industry has attempted to have legislation passed that would require local municipalities to cover the cost of relocation their lines, waive permit fees and provide one year a notice on any project that would require relocation. A similar bill was introduced this year, HB 5098, but it did not include the requirement cover the cost of relocation.
This bill was voted out of committee just prior to the legislature leaving for break, but stalled on the House floor. The League, along with the Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Association of Counties, the Country Road Association and the Michigan Association of Country Drain Commissioners all spoke in opposition to the legislation. We also submitted a joint letter opposing the bill which can be viewed at the flowing link. HB 5098 Assoc Opposition Letter Final Version
The key concerns we have with the bill are as follows:
- Would not allow city or village to charge a permit fee for relocation resulting in local governments subsidizing for-profit industry.
- Requires a one year advance notification of any project that result in relocation, but does not require any action by the provider after they receive notice to communicate with the municipality. We could still find ourselves in situations where a new road is being cut only weeks after it is finished.
- There are no penalties for a provider that does not follow the terms of the permit or causes construction delays.
- The proponents of the legislation say that it will help expand broadband services but the bill does nothing to guarantee that will happen.
- The is in direct conflict with the coordinated planning pilots and asset management efforts of the Governor and instead singles out one select industry within the right-of-way.
Once the legislature returns from break we anticipate there will be a continued effort to get this legislation passed in the House. The League and its local government partners will continue to push back against those efforts. We ask that if you see or speak with you legislator over break to let them know that this bill does nothing but add addition burdens and costs to local government.
John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0303.