Sibley Files Bill Seeking
End to Phone Fee Taxes
AUSTIN - Waco Sen. David Sibley on Tuesday, February 6, announced a bill aimed at eliminating almost $100 million in taxes consumers pay on telephone use fees.
According to Public Utility Commission and Comptroller's office figures prepared by the Senate Business and Commerce Committee Sibley chairs, telephone users in Texas paid $96.6 million in local and state sales taxes on federal, state and local fees last year.
"It is unfair to require consumers to pay what is essentially a tax on a tax," Sibley said. "While eliminating these sales tax payments will cut revenue to both the State of Texas and to municipalities, I don't believe we can justify this double-taxing of the public."
Sibley's proposal, Senate Bill (SB) 547, would eliminate sales taxes on five fees: the Federal Universal Service Charge, the Texas Universal Service Charge, the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF) Assessment, Public Utility Gross Receipts Tax, and the Telecom Municipal Franchise Fees.
In other Senate news, several committees met Tuesday, including the Business and Commerce Committee; the Finance Committee, which heard testimony on higher education matters; the Natural Resources Committee, which heard testimony on air quality and water issues; and the Nominations Committee, which is considering nominations by Gov. Rick Perry to several state agencies and boards.
In session, the Senate moved closer to the first floor debate of the of the 77th Regular Session with the second reading of SB 170, sponsored by San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth. SB 170 would allow a quorum of members of the board of a state governmental body to attend a legislative committee meeting without being subject to the Open Meetings Act.
A quorum is the minimum number of members required to conduct the business of a governmental body. Currently, a quorum of board members of a state agency attending a legislative hearing is subject to the Open Meetings Act if one or more of the board members discusses matters within the board's jurisdiction.
The next step in the Senate legislative process is the third reading of a bill, at which time the senators can debate the measure, offer amendments, and vote for or against final passage.
The Senate stands adjourned until 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, 2001.