ICTA Update — February 4, 2011

No action on bills of interest
Committees and subcommittees took no action on bills of interest to Iowa cable operators this week.

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The House Commerce Committee did introduce HSB 53, a bill which would change the requirement that authorized users of the ICN could only buy services from private companies if the user received a waiver from the ICN board.  ICTA supports the bill.

Another County bill introduced
A second bill has been introduced in the Senate would allow counties to use the ICN for purposes of date transmission.  ICTA opposes the bill.

Cable reception February 23 at Embassy Suites
Cable’s 2011 Reception is scheduled for Wednesday, February 23rdat the Embassy Suites on the River in downtown Des Moines.  The reception is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Iowa’s Agenda features leaders
Iowa’s Agenda, the Mediacom produced half hour show on Iowa’s legislature, this week features Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, and, Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsubrg.

North Central cable show scheduled
The North Central Cable Show is scheduled for February 27-28 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota.  For information: www.mncca.com.

Subcommittee Considers Choice of Providers Bill

A Senate subcommittee this week considered whether to push forward SSB1049, Iowa Cable’s proposed bill which would give franchised cable and video operators and Iowa telephone companies the right to provide service in multi-unit residential properties, including mobile home parks.

The subcommittee members are Sen. Brian Schoenjahn, D-Arlington, Sen. Joe Seng, D-Davenport, and Sen. Pat Ward, R-West Des Moines.

Jim Carney, for Mediacom, and Tom Graves for Iowa Cable, both told subcommittee members that the bill was an attempt to insure that customers had choice. They said some residential owners are signing exclusive deals and asking existing operators to leave the units.

Lobbyists for apartment owners and the mobile home parks testified that property owners should be able to decide which companies provide service in their units.

A second subcommittee meeting will be scheduled within the next two weeks.

Property tax bill proposed
A bill to change property taxation for telephone companies has been proposed. SSB 1051 is considered a Qwest backed bill. Iowa Cable will study the bill and its possible ramifications before deciding whether to support it.

Counties seek ICN access
The counties are again asking that they be allowed to be authorized users of the ICN. Iowa Cable has registered as opposed to the bill, SF97.

Cable reception February 23 at Embassy Suites
Cable’s 2011 Reception is scheduled for Wednesday, February 23rdat the Embassy Suites on the River in downtown Des Moines. The reception is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Iowa’s Agenda features discussion on judiciary
Iowa’s Agenda, the Mediacom produced half hour show on Iowa’s legislature, this week features Rep. Stew Iverson, R-Clarion and Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids. The legislators discussed judicial retention, gay marriage and the 2012 state budget.

On February 2, the show will feature Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Senate President Jack Kibbie.

North Central cable show scheduled
The North Central Cable Show is scheduled for February 27-28 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota. For information: www.mncca.com.

ICN Amendment Comes Out Of HF 45

The House Republican leadership withdrew an amendment Wednesday to its de-appropriations bill which worried some in the telecom industry.The amendment, in Section 20 of the bill, would have allowed “qualified providers” to lease ICN capacity and then resell it to users, even if they aren’t authorized users under the current Iowa code.

Cable and telephone lobbyists argued that the provision might allow some companies to use a subsidized network to compete with existing telephone and cable providers who had to invest in their networks.

The bill still will ask the state to put out an RFP for sale or lease of the ICN.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Iowa Senate, where Democrats still hold a 26-24 majority.

CABLE RECEPTION FEBRUARY 23 AT EMBASSY SUITES
Cable’s 2011 Reception is scheduled for Wednesday, February 23rdat the Embassy Suites on the River in downtown Des Moines. The reception is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

IOWA’S AGENDA FEATURES DISCUSSION ON JUDICIARY
Iowa’s Agenda, the Mediacom produced half hour show on Iowa’s legislature, this week features Rep. Kurt Swaim, D-Bloomfield and Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton. The legislators discussed judicial retention, gay marriage and the 2012 state budget.

NORTH CENTRAL CABLE SHOW SCHEDULED
The North Central Cable Show is scheduled for February 27-28 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota. For information: www.mncca.com.

First week of 84th General Assembly

The first week of Iowa’s 84th General Assembly is complete. It was an interesting week, if just because there are so many new members.

In the House, there are 29 new House members, and, only seven of them are Democrats. That’s obvious, of course, from the fact that the House now has a 60 – 40 split, with Republicans in charge.

In the Senate, there are ten new members, and, nine of them are Republicans. That’s why the Senate has gone from a 32-18 edge for Democrats in the 83rd session, to a 26 -23 split today. One seat is up for election next week and is likely to stay Republican.

Some of the new Senators are well known though, because they used to serve in the House, including Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, Sen. Sandra Greiner, R-Keota and Sen. Kent Sorensen, R-Indianola.

If you have a new legislator, let them know who you are! Write or call your new legislator this week. There is no session for MLK Day, January 17.

HSB 1/HF 45 takes on ICN sale or lease
The first important legislative initiative of the new House Republican majority is a de-appropriation bill which began as HSB1 and has now morphed into House File  45.  It includes language which calls for an RFP for the sale or lease of the ICN, but, also includes language to allow the ICN to lease service to private companies. One fear is that these companies could then sell services via the ICN to Iowans who are not currently authorized users of the ICN.

Iowa Cable will keep a close eye on this and any other proposed ICN legislation again this year.

Iowa’s Agenda begins new season
Iowa’s Agenda, cable television’s half hour show on the members of Iowa’s General Assembly began a new season on January 12, 2011.  The show is produced by Mediacom Communications at its Des Moines Studio.

Iowa Cable’s Tom Graves interviewed Sen. Jerry Behn and Rep. Brian Quirk. The show airs every Thursday, Friday and Sunday on Mediacom Connections channel, mostly on channel 22. Next week the show will focus on the judicial retention issue and the idea of impeaching Supreme Court justices based on their gay rights’ decision.

Welcome

Hello Iowa Cable members!

Web Site up and active!
Iowa Cable’s website is up and active again. Check out our new graphics and content.

Legislature opens
With a mix of solemnity and promises of bipartisanship, the first day of Iowa’s 84th general session of the Iowa General Assembly began on Monday January 10. The session promises to close in April, but it faces considerable obstacles.

As you know, the House is now controlled by Republicans with Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, having a 60-40 majority. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has a thin 26-23 majority, with one seat facing special election yet this month.

Action Items for Cable
Cable television operators are considering legislation regarding their right of entry into multi-unit housing projects. Iowa’s policy of promoting investment in broadband is at risk if housing agents can enter into exclusive agreements with companies which do not offer the same quality of service as the cable provider or telephone company in their area.

The ICN is likely to be considered again. Industry leaders are discussing whether or not the state customer based can be opened for private operators as well as the ICN.

Property taxes are again an item of discussion as recent studies have made it clear that commercial property owners pay a disproportionate share of property taxes.

2011 Dues
Dues are unchanged again this year. If you haven’t received your dues statement, you will soon.

Contact me any time. While I am at the Capitol during session, the easiest way to reach me will be on my cell phone.

Thanks! Tom Graves