Tuesday, April 07, 2009
The Czar is not dead—179 page HB984 is alive
by Larry Geller
SB1680 was held last night in the House Finance Committee. I couldn’t stay around to hear the decision making, but it is dead.
Does that mean Hawaii is safe from the communications czar? Unfortunately not. The last remaining bill, HB984, is alive, 179 pages long, and will now be the vehicle to create the czar. This bill has passed out of the senate Ways and Means committee.
It’s just as bad as SB1680 was. For example, from page 82 where broadband mapping is discussed:
§ -76 Broadband inventory maps. The Hawaii broadband commissioner shall designate the entity within the State to be responsible for developing and maintaining broadband inventory maps, as described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 10 of 2009 and the Broadband Data Improvement Act. If permitted by federal law, the commissioner may contract with service providers to develop the broadband inventory maps. Subject only to any limitations imposed by federal law, all providers of broadband infrastructure and services in Hawaii shall be required to furnish information requested by the broadband commissioner in support of broadband mapping, reporting, and data-driven policy support. Proprietary data on private infrastructure furnished by private providers shall be protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or Uniform Information Practices Act and shall be made available to the public only in a summarized form that appropriately protects the proprietary concerns of those private providers.
The Hawaii broadband commissioner shall have the authority to designate economic zones anywhere in the State at a location that may be identified as a strategic site to create facilities that will stimulate job growth."
It goes on and on. This section could be how the czar gives a contract to Connected Nation.
Public access television is still in danger. The czar can fine the providers a draconian $25,000 per day or shut them down at his/her whim:
§ -23 Penalties. (a) Any telecommunications carrier, cable operator, or PEG access organization violating, neglecting, or failing in any particular way to conform to or comply with this chapter or any lawful order of the commissioner, including, but not limited to the grounds specified in section -68 for cable operators and PEG access organizations, shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $25,000 for each day the violation, neglect, or failure continues, to be assessed by the commissioner after a hearing in accordance with chapter 91. The commissioner may order the telecommunications carrier, cable operator, or PEG access organization to cease carrying on its business while the violation, neglect, or failure continues.
If I understand things correctly, the next step for this bill is conference committee, the dark Tunnel of Love where anything can happen.
Get ready to see your cable bill deregulated and watch out for the safety of the public access tv channels. There could be a czar in Hawaii as soon as July 1.