Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Phoning It In

Speaking of misguided votes on important issues, as we just were, incumbent state legislators -- who, being professionals, you'd think would be at least a little smarter than your average amateur juror -- have begun groveling before the voters to apologize for their votes in 2003 eliminating rate regulation of behemoth telephone monopolies like Bell South.

Jacksonville's Times-Union reporter J. Taylor Rushing has the story:
Nov. 1 was the trigger date for a 2003 state law that allowed a $344 million increase in basic local phone rates by Florida's major phone companies -- BellSouth, Sprint and Verizon. In Jacksonville that means BellSouth customers will see rates go up by $3.14 a month over the next three years.

It has been documented as the largest phone rate increase in Florida history. Under what legislators describe as a little-noticed clause in the law, phone companies also are now allowed to automatically increase their rates by up to 20 percent a year with no state regulation.

* * *
Phone companies largely pushed through the 2003 law on the argument that it would promote competition and lower prices. But state senate President Tom Lee, who studied earlier versions of the law for years, said that hasn't happened, and companies have actually pushed for federal laws to stifle competition.

* * *
Some legislators were frank Tuesday and said they didn't notice the deregulation clause.

"I really regret that I even voted for this," said Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville. "That's one piece that I didn't realize until it was too late. I just never saw it."

If you don't like it, just turn to the 'competition' .... a Dixie Cup and a thread.

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