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Citizen Group to New Jersey State Senate: Consumers Need Real Telecom Reform Now
For Immediate Release November 22, 2011
(Alexandria, VA) – Earlier this year, it appeared New Jersey was on the right path to long-overdue reforms in its burdensome telecommunications regulatory regime, but that progress is now threatened by an alliance of special interests. That’s the word from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a grassroots taxpayer group with 362,000 members nationwide and nearly 17,000 members in the Garden State.
“Despite the fact that the Assembly overwhelmingly passed a strong reform bill earlier this year, the Senate has proved to be a big obstacle to modernizing how New Jersey regulates,” said Andrew Moylan, NTU’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “The regulatory overhaul proposed by Senator Lesniak (D-Union County) has been derailed by unions and other special interests that want to keep New Jersey telecommunications customers in the dark ages.”
In response to the impasse, Senator Bob Smith (D-Middlesex County) has introduced a so-called “compromise” bill that unfortunately falls far short of the Assembly-passed legislation. It allows for the state’s Board of Public Utilities to have a hand in the process of determining rates charged to consumers and the terms of their service, even when a given market is deemed to be fully competitive. Many of its provisions are relics of the bygone era of government-enforced telephone and cable monopolies that simply do not exist in today’s economy.
“Senator Smith’s bill is not just a watered-down reform proposal, it ends up being mostly water. The whole purpose of regulatory reform is to remove harmful barriers, especially in services that are subject to vibrant competition, but Senator Smith’s bill either does nothing to remove those barriers or in some cases builds them even higher,” Moylan noted.
“New Jersey is the state where much of technological foundation for the telecommunications industry was originally invented and built,” Moylan concluded. “The time has come for the State Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead in creating a modern regulatory structure that is up to the task of protecting consumers and providing incentives for investment and innovation in our 21st Century economy.”
NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. More information on NTU’s telecommunications policy work is available at www.ntu.org.