Big Phone Rate Hike May Come About Unless Blocked by Florida Legislature

Consumer advocates are sounding a warning that your phone bill could go up as early as January unless Florida lawmakers take action when they meet in Tallahassee next week.

A provision in the bill used to grant a $344 million a year phone rate increase allows the increase to take effect, regardless of the pending appeal before the state supreme court, if the federal government allows internet phone companies free access to local service.

Michael Twomey of Florida Utility Taxwatch says the ruling is expected in January.

"Phone companies would get their money immediately without having the due process protection for consumers and be able to make their case to the Supreme Court. It’s fundamentally wrong. It’s the only example that we can find in Florida’s statutory history denying customers the right to appeal a PSC case to the Supreme Court."

Twomey is hopeful state lawmakers will remove the automatic increase next week when they meet in a special session on hurricane recovery and pre-k.