The Michigan House Committee on Energy & Technology narrowly passed a telecommunications bill Wednesday that will enable phone companies to eliminate landline service with only 90 days' notice starting in 2017.
The panel voted 11-3 for Senate Bill 636 with 5 members passing. Eleven votes are the minimum required for passage.
AARP Michigan strongly opposed the legislation because:
-- Surveys indicate our members and other older adults prefer to keep their landline service in addition to wireless phones or other alternative service.
-- Wireless phones or other alternative options currently are not as reliable and affordable as landline service.
-- The bill replaces the Michigan Public Service Commission with the more remote Federal Communications Commission as the front-line telecommunications regulatory agency.
-- Consumers who live in areas where they cannot receive service comparable to landlines would have to initiate a complaint before the Michigan Public Service Commission could investigate. The MPSC would not be able to launch such an investigation on its own.
-- Questions remain about whether the new technology can support medical monitoring of pacemakers, implantable cardiac defibrillators and other lifesaving devices.
-- Questions also remain about the reliability of VOIP in the event of a prolonged power outage.
-- In some pockets of the state there is no broadband access, so traditional landlines are the only option.
AARP has designated all votes cast on SB 636 as "key votes," meaning we will report to our members and others how legislators voted on this important legislation.
We commend these House committee members for voting against SB 636: Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica; Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake ; Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights.
We were disappointed these committee members voted for the bill: Rep. Charles Brunner, D-Bay City; Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekema; Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Linden; Rep. Rudy Hobbs, D-Southfield; Rep. Bradford Jacobsen, R-Oxford; Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway; Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton; Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes; Rep. Peter Pettalila, R-Presque Isle; Rep. Amanda Price, R-Holland; Rep. Thomas Stallworth, D-Detroit.
These committee members passed: Rep. Collene Lamonte, D-Montague; Rep. Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe; Rep. David Nathan, D-Detroit; Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Rep. Dale Zorn, R-Ida.
Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, was absent.