TALLAHASSEE – Legislation that could lead to record rate increases for local telephone service was passed Thursday by the Florida House and now heads to Gov. Jeb Bush.
The governor, who vetoed similar legislation a year ago just six months before his re-election, has already indicated he would sign the new version (CS-SB 654) because it gives more authority to the Public Service Commission to control rates. The House passed the measure 93-20.
The bill requires the rate increases to be offset by decreases in the access charges that long-distance carriers must pay to local phone providers when a call is completed. Opponents say there is no guarantee that long-distance rates will go down as a result. The Senate approved the bill in a 27-12 vote Wednesday.
Consumer groups, including AARP and Florida Legal Services, have opposed the bill, contending it does not guarantee increased competition and would increase rates for those who can least afford it, such as poor and elderly people who make few long-distance calls. [Via Moreover]