Phone Rate Repeal Passes First Hurdle

The first thing lawmakers did, was acknowledge they were wrong in passing the phone rate hike legislation last year. One of those was Rep. Randy Johnson, a Winter Garden Republican. “It seems to be interpreted differently by the Public Service Commission than some of those who voted for it."

Just one phone company representative, John Fons of BellSouth, spoke at this week’s hearing. “If this bill is repealed we will be plunging Florida back into the dark ages in telecommunications."

As the committee voted to give its unanimous okay to the legislation, Jason Duff of Sprint indicated it might have to be stopped on the Senate side of the aisle. "We regroup now and try to do what we can to keep this bill from passing."

The bill could pass the full house as early as next week. So phone company lobbyists are now focusing on the senate. With almost four lobbyists for every senator, the phone companies’ strategy is to keep this bill from even coming up in the senate.

Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican from Pasco County voted no last year and hopes the phone companies don't overpower his fellow senators now. "Of course they've hired hundreds of people at the cost of millions of dollars to the phone companies to lobby against the consumer in essence. I would hope that we would overlook that."

Conventional wisdom at the capitol is that with a public vote, the repeal will pass. So the goal by the companies is to keep that vote from happening.