The state Senate in Florida ended its session for the year Friday without ever calling for a vote on the bill that would have enabled statewide franchising for telephone competitors.
“It’s dead for the year. It’s all over in Florida,” said Steve Wilkerson, executive director of the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association.
The bill, HB1199, was resoundingly approved by the state House, but supporters could not muster enough support for even a vote in the Senate.
Wilkerson attributed the failure of the bill to grassroots lobbying by the cable industry, with local system managers visiting senators, known to be undecided, when they returned to their districts; all-out opposition from local and county officials and groups like the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and cable’s anti-bill advertising.
Telephone companies have been successful in other states pointing out cable’s annual rate hikes, branding them anti-consumer. However, telcos are in the midst of acting on rate deregulation in Florida, so pointing the finger on rates worked against them, according to Wilkerson.
Rep. Trey Treviesa (R- Tampa), the author of the bill, has told local press that he will bring it back next year.