The Senate bill that will extend the telecommunication discounts for schools, libraries, and hospitals to 2016, was approved by the full Senate on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. It was sent to the House on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 for their consideration.
This bill has had two major changes from the original version. The discounts were originally set to expire in 2024. Due to lobby pressure, the committee agreed to extend the discounts for only four years instead of twelve. Another part of the compromise was to increase the amount of profit the telecommunication providers who receive incentives in Chapter 58, from 5% to 10%. Although these changes are not exactly what we advocated for, it does guarantee substantial discounts for at least four more years on telecommunication services for districts who receive these services from companies that have elected incentives in Chapter 58 and 59 (these are primarily the large telecommunication companies).
The next step in the process is for the House to pass this bill and then for it to be signed by the governor. HB 2765 is a very similar bill that has already been approved by the House State Affairs committee so it is expected that SB 773 will become the primary bill and will be approved by both the House and Senate.
TCEA will keep you informed as this process continues.