Gov. Vetoes La. Franchise Bill

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Citing fears that state franchising reform might interfere with contract rights of local governments and incumbent cable operators, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco vetoed a bill on her desk that would have enabled state franchising for new competitors.

In her July 12 letter to the secretary of the state Senate, Blanco indicated that there is uncertainty over the financial impact on local governments of the bill (HB699). If the bill were to cause "significant revenue loss to local government, as many have reported, traditional vital services for our citizens would have to be cut or those citizens may be asked to pay increased taxes," she wrote.

Blanco said she's spoken to the stakeholders in the reform debate and has been assured that they will work together to create "franchise opportunities for all companies.”

The bill was approved by the legislature in June, but since then, local city and government officials met personally with the governor to urge her veto. City officials were worried about the impact of the bill, which would have allowed incumbent operators to opt into the statewide regulatory scheme. Their concerns were echoed in Blanco's opposition letter.

The bill called for certification of new providers by the office of the Secretary of State. That office would rule on applications in 10 days, awarding 10-year statewide franchises.

Blanco's action sends the bill back to the state House of Representatives.

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