SB205 Amended, No Longer Threatens RDA

SB205 has passed the Senate today with amendments that clarify that RDA runds can’t be used to pay the debt service of a bond created by an interlocal agreement. The intent is that cities will not be able to funnel RDA money to pay off any existing bonds from UTOPIA. The amended bill text is available on the Legislature website (see lines 651-653b). As long as the bill doesn’t see any further modification in the House, I think Centerville and other cities who want to build fiber optic infrastructure with RDA money will be safe.

Liveblogging the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee: Feburary 20, 2009

As I normally do when attending government meetings, I’ll be liveblogging the entire affair. Today the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee will be considering SB205, a bill that makes modifications to redevelopment agency funds.

Upon a closer examination, it looks like it will do two things that can affect UTOPIA: network infrastructure can only be paid for via RDA through tax expendetures and not by bonding and the infrastructure must remain open to any service provider’s use. I disagree that it is necessary to take away the ability of the city to bond RDA funds for such projects (especially since they are very capital-intensive) and the “open” provision might be interpreted to mean that services such as transparent LAN can be provided directly by the city as wholesale transport. Obviously these changes can be quite troublesome. I’m going to speak against both changes and voice my concerns when the time presents itself.

Keep on refreshing as the meeting begins to see what’s going on.

3:00PM Movement to pass with favorable recommendation has passed unanimously with the note that the bill will be amended. The meeting is now adjourned. I’ll keep an eye on the amendments.

2:51PM UTOPIA cities are working on some amendments to improve the language in the bill. This may not be as bad as initially thought.

2:41PM Yeah, this is a direct response to Centerville. Sen. Bramble is concerned that RDA funds could be used to pay off UTOPIA’s bond debt. That’s why they’re looking at closing the bonding option for telecommunications.

2:38PM Sen. Bramble is taking the floor to discuss SB205.

2:28PM Sen. Bramble has arrived. I still don’t see any Qwest or Comcast reps that I recognize.

2:27PM SB205 isn’t going first as originally planned since Sen. Bramble isn’t here yet. Instead, we get to hear about uniform fees on canoes. This is the kind of legislative stuff that’s good for a nap.

2:25PM Looks like we’re up to 5 senators. With a quorum established, they can finally get started.

2:22PM Re-ordered so that the latest updates are at the top. Don’t know why I was doing it the other way.

2:20PM Looks like the committee chair got tired of waiting. He just left to go find some of the other senators that should be here right now.

2:18PM Okay, I know Senators are busy. But, seriously, it’s almost 20 minutes past when this was supposed to get started. And I’m here on my own dime.

2:07PM I still don’t see any of the usual suspects from Qwest or Comcast here today. It’s entirely possible they don’t yet have a hand in it. If we stay on the down-low, it may stay that way.

2:01PM As with most committee meetings, this one is going to start late. Looks like there’s still at least 3 members not here yet including Sen. Bramble and Sen. Stephenson.

1:55PM It’s still a pretty empty meeting room. I’ll bet the Senate has been pretty busy with today’s media circus. I’ve also heard that the bill is likely to be modified.

SB205 Hearing This Friday at 2PM

SB205 will be heard before the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee this Friday the 20th at 2PM. For those of you planning on going to Brigham City, that doesn’t leave much in the way of time to make it down for the hearing, especially since it will be the first item heard. I would encourage you to write to the committee members if you are unable to attend to let them know how you feel about these changes.

SB205 Assigned to Committee

SB205 has been assigned to the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee. There is currently no hearing scheduled during which it could be heard, so keep your eyes on their schedule for changes. It will be critically important that as many of us as possible appear at the hearings to speak our piece and express the strong opposition to the telecom changes.

SB205 Text Available, Would Ban RDA Funds for Telecom

The text of SB205 became available a few short moments ago and, as currently worded, would ban the use of RDA funds on telecommunications projects. (See lines 651-3.) The bill is a direct response to Centerville’s attempts to build out fiber optics infrastructure in the city to promote next-generation networks. Given Sen. Bramble’s significant power and influence, it is critically important that each of you contact your state senator and representative to ask that the provision either be stricken or amended to allow use of RDA funds for telecom provided that the infrastructure is open to any provider.

(Update 2/18/09 by Mike Taylor) – Here is the actual text of the bill, the link above shows the status.

Centerville Inches Closer to RDA-Funded Fiber Hub Despite SB205 Threat

Centerville is getting closer to using RDA money to build a fiber hub in the city even as the threat of Sen. Bramble’s RDA amendments loom. The city council was unanimuous in voting to draft final documents to make it all happen. Once built, it would rescue about $2M worth of “stranded investment” at a cost of around $100K.

Sen. Bramble’s boxcar legislation for the changes, SB205, may contain provisions that would allow such carrier-neutral infrastructure to be built with RDA money, but there’s still a very strong chance that the provision would be nixed and telecom spending banned outright. You’d better contact your state senators and representatives to make them aware of what’s coming.

UPDATE: The Standard-Examiner has more on the story.