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House Committee will Hear Telecom Facility Relocation Bill on Tuesday, Feb. 16

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 15, 2016

The House Local Government Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, February 16 on House Bill 404, which would require urban renewal agencies to pay the full cost of relocating telecommunication facilities resulting from an urban renewal project.  We ask city officials to contact members of the committee to respectfully ask legislators to oppose the bill.

House Bill 404 is sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star on behalf of Frontier Communications.  The bill provides: “In the event that a telecommunications service provider is required to relocate its facilities to accommodate an Idaho urban renewal agency project within its area of operation… an urban renewal agency shall directly reimburse the telecommunications service provider one hundred percent (100%) of the cost of relocation of its facilities.” 

The bill also provides that the full costs of any facility relocation in process on July 1, 2016 must be paid by the urban renewal agency if there is no written agreement between the agency and the service provider concerning relocation costs. 

The bill defines “cost of relocation” as “the entire cost incurred by the telecommunications service provider attributable to the relocation of the utility facility after deducting any salvage value derived from the old utility facility.”

Why Should House Bill 404 be Defeated?

Cities work closely with utilities during the design stage of projects to ensure that their needs are taken into account and that the project will happen in such a way as to minimize costs to the utility and limit disruption of utility service.  These principles are codified in Idaho Code 40-210, which requires local governments to consult and coordinate with utilities on projects within public highways and the associated rights-of-way.

Idaho court rulings have held that utility providers are “permissive users” of rights-of-way and do not have any property interest in rights-of-way.  Currently urban renewal agencies are able to negotiate with service providers for voluntary payment of relocation costs, which allows agencies to participate to the extent that funding and other circumstances allow. 

The issue of utility relocation in urban renewal projects has been known and discussed for some time, but neither the issue nor the proposed legislation were presented to the Urban Renewal Interim Committee.

Telecommunication companies operate under a special franchise granted in Article XI, Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution and do not pay the franchise fees that power, cable television, and natural gas service providers pay for use of public rights-of-way.  Telecommunications providers are already in a privileged position. 

House Bill 404 would single out urban renewal agencies and require them to pay for utility relocation using public funds when no other public agency is required to do so.  This is bad public policy. 

Relocation of utility facilities represents an opportunity for telecommunications service providers to upgrade their equipment.  Many urban renewal projects attract new businesses to communities, helping to increase the customer base for these utilities.  While there are costs associated with these projects, there are also benefits from the service provider’s perspective.

Contact Members of the Committee

We ask city officials to contact members of the committee to respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 404.  The committee members and their email addresses are listed below.  

Rep. Lynn Luker, Boise, Chair: lluker@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Kathleen Sims, Coeur d’Alene, Vice Chair: ksims@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens: vbar@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Christy Perry, Nampa: cperry@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Lance Clow, Twin Falls: lclow@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho Falls: wendyhorman@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Luke Malek, Coeur d’Alene: lmalek@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Gary Collins, Nampa: gcollins@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Don Cheatham, Post Falls: dcheatham@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Thomas Loertscher, Iona: tloertscher@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Eric Redman, Athol: eredman@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Hy Kloc, Boise: hkloc@house.idaho.gov
Rep. John McCrostie, Garden City: jmccrostie@house.idaho.gov
Rep. Mark Nye, Pocatello: mnye@house.idaho.gov

 

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