Federal Legislative Agenda 2017
Quality of Life
Providers and Expand Universal Fund Support for Broadband
The Telecommunications Industry, both wireline and wireless, is actively seeking to undercut Laredo’s real estate, zoning and taxing rights in the area of communications policy at the federal and state levels of government.
In the 115th Congress, a rewrite of the Communications Act could be a leading legislative priority for the House and Senate leadership. There will be similar efforts to rewrite the nation’s communications regulatory policies at the Federal Communications Commission. These legislative and regulatory reviews will include efforts to undercut Laredo’s authority over managing its rights-of-way and zoning authority over cell tower siting and for its rights to receive just and reasonable compensation for the use of its facilities. Additionally, the next controversy is moving wireless technologies into the rights of way. Finally, Laredo hopes the promised efforts to harmonize the tax treatment of online commerce versus commerce conducted on Main Street, which Laredo supports, will take place.
Protect Local Rights-of-Way: The City of Laredo calls on Congress to reject any legislative or Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) initiatives to preempt, or otherwise limit, the City of Laredo’s ability to manage its rights-of-way, including the ability to demand a fair rental payment for the use of same. Congress should make clear to the Federal Communications Commission that it must respect the statutory limitations Congress established in the Communications Act. Fairness and the financial health of local governments across the country demand that local governments retain the authority given them by the states to manage and obtain compensation for the use of their rights-of-way.
“Densification” of wireless networks is resulting in more antennas and requests for placement of thousands of new or replacement poles in the rights of way – potentially dramatically affecting local landscapes. Congress and the Commission must protect localities’ control of placement of these devices in a way that allows services to be deployed while protecting against undue intrusion.
Oppose Preferential Tax Treatment for Cell Phones: The City of Laredo calls upon Congress to reject legislative initiatives to preempt state and local taxing authority on wireless service providers and their property. Adoption of such special-interest legislation would be a disservice to the taxpayers and citizens of the City of Laredo by undercutting the community’s ability to bring fairness and equity to our existing phone tax system.
Preserve PEG Programming and Support: The City of Laredo calls on the Congress to enact legislation that eliminates unnecessary limits on the use of PEG funds to capital and not operating purposes; creates a technology neutral definition of a cable system; bars discriminatory treatment of PEG channels and preserves PEG support and localism. In addition, Laredo calls on the Congress or the Federal Courts to protect Laredo’s 1% PEG support payment from the FCC’s Section 621 Order on Reconsideration that provides a cable operator may claim as a credit against franchise fees certain in-kind benefits such as services to schools and government buildings as well as certain I-Net benefits.
Protect Main Street Merchants and Local Revenues in Internet Age: Current tax laws favor on-line or remote commercial transactions as opposed to local purchases. Therefore, the City of Laredo calls on Congress to adopt legislation such as the Marketplace Fairness Act, so that states might harmonize the tax treatment of transactions conducted on Main Street versus the Internet. The City further opposes legislation that would affect our ability to collect cable franchise fee revenue on digital services such as pay- per-view or video on demand services.
Support bringing broadband services to schools and libraries through the E-Rate program and to low income individuals through the Universal Service Lifeline program: The City of Laredo supports expansion of Universal Service Funds for broadband purposes as outlined by the FCC for, schools, libraries and low income or high cost users.
Protect Laredo’s Rights as a Business Data Services (BDS) customer: –Laredo relies on BDS for private networks and to access services such as voice over IP, Internet access, video conferencing and secure remote access for general, public safety, health care and educational functions. The FCC proposes to eliminate all tariffs (published and regulated rates) for BDS in competitive markets and impose price cap and benchmark-based regulation on BDS in non-competitive markets. The change could result in significant new costs to localities. The Commission must protect the rights of local governments as some of the largest consumers of BDS services.
Federal Communications Commission Federal Courts
Heberto L. Ramirez
Information Services and Telecommunications Director
1102 Bob Bullock Loop
Laredo, TX 78043
Phone: (956) 727-6500
Fax: (956) 727-6509