Bill Alert: SB190 also targeting UTOPIA, could scuttle Macquarie deal

It appears the legislature is determined to chase off a $300M investment in our state’s broadband infrastructure to appease CenturyLink. Sen. John Valentine is running SB190 which has been very specifically crafted to prevent any UTOPIA city from using the same utility fee that Provo has to pay down the bonds. Moving to a utility fee to provide transparency on the cost of the UTOPIA bonds has been a key part of the Macquarie discussions so far, so it could very well put the deal in jeopardy.

Just like with Rep. Curt Webb, all you have to do is follow the money. Since 2008, Sen. Valentine has taken $200 from the Utah Rural Telecom Association, $1500 from CenturyLink/Qwest, and a whopping $7250 from Comcast with at least one donation every single year. He’s heard from the incumbents; now he needs to hear from us.

SB190 isn’t currently on the Senate Business and Labor Committee agenda, but I’ll let you know when it is. If it passes, it could hamper the deal to have Macquarie complete gigabit fiber to over 150K homes and prevent them from expanding beyond current UTOPIA cities. Now is the time to contact the members of the committee and tell them to kill this bill.

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9 Responses to Bill Alert: SB190 also targeting UTOPIA, could scuttle Macquarie deal

  1. Sam Allen says:


    Are you aware of any articles that spell out what the telcos and cable companies have received from the government by way of subsidies over the last 50 years? I want to educated myself so I can speak with my representative- Sen. Valentine.

    I feel our elected officials are gimping Utopia because they somehow think the other commercial providers have arrived at their current state all on their own without a dime of government money subsidies or special considerations. They then handcuff an organization like Utopia ( and btw, Utopia hasn’t helped itself here either! ) and iProvo because they feel like they have wasted tax payer money and need to save ‘us taxpayers’ from further damage.

    Speaker Lockharts $300 million technology proposal puts the cart before the horse. Build out the wired fiber infrastructure and then bring in the hardware technology. Adding a few thousand feet of cat 6, a few dozen access points to handle the added wi-fi from these student devices all to get clogged by lack of bandwidth outside the schools will be an absolute waste money.

    Thanks Jesse for keeping us up to date here. I am a big proponent of FTTH or FTTP or whatever acronym we use .. either way.. just get me some fiber! Thanks.

  2. Peter says:

    I’m confused Jesse. I assume this would affect the way Utopia can collect money? How does it currently do that? And how would this change things? I never see a bill for Utopia because I don’t have access right now but I assume I’m still paying for it because I’m a resident of Midvale. So would this bill stop Utopia from being able to collect money from me or make it so they would have to have a specific fee for Utopia? Sorry if I don’t make sense I may not know enough to ask the right questions.

    • Jesse says:

      Right now, UTOPIA cities pay bond payments from the general fund. It’s kind of buried in the rest of the budget, so it’s not readily obvious as to what kind of financial impact the bond payments have. Opponents depend on this opacity to make some fantastic claims about the budget effects of UTOPIA. Moving to a utility fee (which Provo did a looong time ago) would show each resident and business the cost of the bond as assessed to them. You’d also be able to accurately gauge how well the revenue-sharing agreement with Macquarie is contributing towards those payments. It provides a lot of transparency (which, ironically, Rep Webb says HB60 does).

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  4. Peter says:

    Okay, so part of the Macquarie deal is having more transparency with paying for UTOPIA. More transparency is generally what people want and this bill is trying to make it difficult to be transparent with the way UTOPIA pays for itself by keeping things the way they are now? If I’m understanding this more correctly then this is just like HB60 without any kind of purpose except to give the incumbents a leg up by trying to ruin the Macquarie deal. Why are they being so blatantly obvious what their bill’s intention is? I just don’t get it I thought politicians were supposed to be sneaky and attach things to the end of other bills etc…

    • Jesse says:

      You understand correctly. And why be sneaky when you’re certain nobody is even watching you? You can bet they’ll try to be more careful going forward.

  5. Pingback: Bill Alert: SB190 will be heard in committee Monday Feb 24 at 8AM - Free UTOPIA!

  6. Larry gates says:

    How can we he from Kansas?

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