Municipal Telecommunications Enabling Legislation – Maine

Date: 15 Jan 2009 | posted in: information | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In late-May 2005, Maine’s governor signed LD 1128, which clarifies local government authority to offer Internet services. The act also instructs the State Planning Office to study the “economic, technological and funding issues associated with municipalities providing wireless Internet services to their communities.”

While few states have completely prohibited municipal telecommunications utilities, many have enacted barriers to municipal entry into the market. Maine was the first state to enact legislation giving municipalities explicit authority to provide wireless Internet access.

Since the law was enacted, Maine has created a new, state-level authority called “ConnectME“(under the provisions of “The Advanced Technology Infrastructure Act”, P.L. 2005). The statute also authorizes the Authority to collect up to 0.25 percent of instate revenues from communications services provided in Maine, to fund the Authority and broadband development projects. In late 2006, ConnectME provisionally adopted rules for the operation of the authority, which now await legislative approval.

Full Text of LD 1128

AN ACT DIRECTING THE STATE PLANNING OFFICE TO STUDY MUNICIPAL CAPABILITIES TO BECOME PROVIDERS OF INTERNET SERVICES

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec.1.  30-A MRSA §2101, as enacted by PL 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 and Pt. C, §106 and amended by PL 1989, c. 6, c. 9, §2 and c. 104, Pt. C, §§8 and 10, is further amended to read:

§2101.  Purpose

Thepurpose of this chapter is to implement the home rule powers granted to municipalities by the Constitution of Maine, Article VIII, Part Second. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, nothing in the chapter may be construed to restrict a municipality’s authority to become a provider of wireless Internet access.

Sec. 2.  Study and report of municipal capabilities to become providers of Internet services. The Executive Department, State Planning Office, in conjunction with the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Economic and Community Development, shall study the following: the technology available for creating wireless Internet access throughout rural and urban municipalities in the State and its estimated cost; the various funding resources and strategic partnerships that may be available to municipalities to deliver wireless Internet services to their communities; and the long-term educational and economic benefits that could be derived from municipalities’ becoming Internet service providers and the benefits to the State.  The State Planning Office shall submit a report on its findings to the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy no later than September 12, 2005. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over telecommunications matters may report out a bill to the First Regular Session of the 123rd Legislature in response to the report.

SUMMARY

Thisbill clarifies that municipalities have the authority to become providers of wireless Internet services and requires the Executive Department, State Planning Office, in conjunction with the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Economic and Community Development, to study the economic, technological and funding issues associated with municipalities’ providing wireless Internet services to their communities.  The bill requires the State Planning Office to submit a report on its findings to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over telecommunications matters and authorizes the committee to report out a bill after reviewing the report.

More information:

  • Documents for LD 1128 – Maine Legislature
  • November 2005 – Draft Report of the Maine Broadband Access Infrastructure Board, submitted to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Steering Committee.
  • ConnectME Authority