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Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund - S.B. 249

by Senator Sibley

House Sponsor: Representative Sylvester Turner

§ Establishes a 1.25 percent assessment rate on taxable receipts of telecommunications utilities and commercial mobile providers to be deposited into the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF).

§ Sets a maximum amount of $1.5 billion that can be deposited in the TIF, excluding interest and loan payments.

§ Requires the Comptroller of Public Accounts (comptroller) to assess annually the fund level, and authorizes a revision of the assessment rate to ensure that the fund does not exceed $1.5 billion.

§ Requires the comptroller to deposit 50 percent of the amounts collected to the public schools account in the TIF and to deposit the remaining funds to the qualifying entities (such as higher education institutions, nonprofit hospitals, and libraries) account in the TIF.

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"Phone Slamming" - S.B. 253

by Senator Barrientos, et al.

House Sponsor: Representative Danburg, et al.

§ Makes it illegal for telecommunications providers to switch a customer's service without the customer's authorization.

§ Authorizes the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to adopt rules to prevent unauthorized switching.

§ Requires providers to obtain authorization to switch a customer's service by written documentation, toll-free electronic authorization placed from the phone subject to switching, oral authorization obtained by an independent third party, or a mailing to the customer.

§ Requires an unauthorized or unverifiable change in a customer's service to be reversed in a certain time period.

§ Requires a provider who illegally switches a customer to pay all usual charges associated with a typical legal switching action.

§ Authorizes the PUC to take corrective actions or administer penalties, such as suspending, revoking, or restricting the registration or certification of a provider, for violations of rules pertaining to this bill.

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Telecommunication Devices for Persons with Disabilities- S.B. 667

by Senator Barrientos, et al.

House Sponsor: Representative Naishtat

§ Requires the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TCDHH) to create a program to financially assist individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired to purchase specialized telecommunications devices for telephone service access.

§ Requires TCDHH to determine a reasonable price for a basic telecommunications device for the deaf, and distribute to each eligible applicant a voucher that guarantees payment of that amount.

§ Requires the payments to be made from the universal service fund, which is funded by local exchange companies.

§ Authorize companies to recover this cost through a surcharge added to the utility's customers' bills.

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Utility Service to Colonias - S.B. 1512

by Senator Truan, et al.

House Sponsor: Representative Rangel

§ Allows utilities to provide utility services to residents who purchase lots prior to July 1, 1995, which have no utility service.

§ Prohibits utilities from bringing new services into subdivisions that are not platted.

§ Allows certain residents who purchased lots without utility services to hook up to services that already exist in their subdivision.

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Municipalities and Telecommunications Right-of-Way - S.B. 1937

by Senator Lucio

House Sponsor: Representative Carter

§ Establishes a joint interim committee to investigate, report, and make legislative recommendations regarding municipal franchise policy pertaining to telecommunication and cable television issues.

§ Ensures the ability of municipalities to exercise their authority to manage the public right-of-way.

§ Requires the committee to investigate certain issues, including:

§ consistency and compensation methodology of franchise agreements;

§ costs incurred by municipalities because of right-of-way and public property usage by utilities providing telecommunication services; and

§ revenue generated for the municipalities resulting from telecommunication utilities providing services.

§ Requires the PUC to ensure customers receive refunds for overcharges by public utilities.

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Regulation of Technology - H.B. 1482

by Representative Carter, et al.

Senator Sponsor: Senator Armbrister

§ Provides for improved regulation of computer and telecommunications equipment and services.

§ Makes a breach of computer security a Class C misdemeanor.

§ Makes the manufacture, possession, delivery, or advertisement of an unlawful telecommunications device a third degree felony.

§ Makes the unauthorized use or theft of telecommunications services a Class B misdemeanor.

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Limitations on Telephone Solicitations - H.B. 2128

by Representative Janek, et al.

Senator Sponsor: Senator Barrientos

§ Requires telephone solicitors to stop blocking their identity when calling potential customers who may have caller identification devices, and imposes a time limit on automatically dialed calls to consumers.

§ Prohibits a person from operating an automatic dialing device for telephone solicitation unless the message is 30 seconds or shorter.

§ Allows the PUC to use the proceeds from administrative penalties deposited to the credit of the PUC.

§ Requires the PUC to conduct an educational program to inform the public of their rights pertaining to this Act.

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9-1-1 Fees for Wireless Providers - H.B. 2129

by Representative Carter, et al.

Senator Sponsor: Senator Lucio

§ Requires all wireless providers to charge a fee on all cellular phones they provide service for and remit the funds to the Advisory Commission on State Emergency Communications (ACSEC).

§ Requires ACSEC to set a statewide 9-1-1 access charge for 9-1-1 calls made from cellular phones.

§ Caps the access charge at $0.50.

§ Provides that a wireless provider is not required to take legal action to enforce the collection of any wireless 9-1-1 service fee.

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Study Exemption for Electric Cooperatives - H.B. 3037

by Representative Cook

Senate Sponsor: Senator Armbrister

§ Eliminates the requirement that an electric cooperative corporation complete a cost of service study when proposing a rate change, if the rate change is uncontested and the PUC determines the study is unnecessary.