As we move closer to a FCC decision to restore local authority, more lawmakers are coming out to back Wheeler’s comments on using Section 706 authority. This week Senator Markey and Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania issued a statement calling on Wheeler to take action.
Wheeler will need that kind of support to remove state laws that restrict competition, as John Brodkin writes in his Ars Technica article. Matthew Berry, the chief of staff to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, spoke at the National Conference of State Legislatures, an organization that already announced it would sue if Wheeler allowed the FCC to step in and overturn state laws:
“In short, under our constitutional framework, states are free to grant or take away powers from municipalities as they see fit. So the basic concept is this: city governments are appendages of state government, but state governments most definitely are not appendages of the national government.”
Multichannel’s John Eggerton also warned that those opposed to preemption think the FCC is overstepping its authority:
“Section 706 does not come close to containing the necessary clear statement that Congress intended to authorize the FCC to preempt state restrictions on municipal broadband projects.”
But others (thankfully) disagree.
Kate Cox at The Consumerist summed up the preemption letter call-and-response between lawmakers and Wheeler:
“In his letter, the chairman agreed that, the state laws against municipal broadband “have the effect of limiting competition in those areas, contrary to almost two decades of bipartisan federal communications policy that is focused on encouraging competition.”
Motherboard’s Sam Gustin followed the most recent letter as well:
He [Wheeler] also reiterated his earlier stance on pre-emption, saying, “I respect the important role of state governments in our federal system, but I know that state laws that directly conflict with critical federal laws and policy may be subject to preemption in appropriate circumstances,” though he diplomatically added, “I recognize that federal preemption is not a step to be taken lightly without a careful consideration of all relevant legal and policy issues.”