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SENATE BILL NO. 227
INTRODUCED BY J. HERTEL
AN ACT CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF A SMALL TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER; PROVIDING FOR RATE DECREASES AS WELL AS RATE INCREASES; PROVIDING FOR REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY UPON PETITION BY A SMALL TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 69-3-901, 69-3-903, 69-3-904, 69-3-906, AND 69-3-907, MCA.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 69-3-901, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-901. Definitions. As used in this part, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Commission" means the Montana public service commission.
(2) "Rate" means a charge by a small telecommunications provider to a subscriber for the initiation or continued provision of regulated telecommunications service. The term includes but is not limited to charges for installations, local service, toll service, directory assistance, and late payment.
(3) "Rate increase" means an increase in the rates for regulated telecommunications services provided by a small telecommunications provider and the creation of new rates.
(4) "Regulated telecommunications service" is as defined in 69-3-803.
(5) "Small telecommunications provider" means a person, partnership, corporation, or other entity providing regulated
telecommunications service to less than
5,000 12,000 subscribers in Montana. Rural telephone cooperatives organized under
Title 35, chapter 18, are not small telecommunications providers.
(6) "Subscriber" means a person, partnership, corporation, or other entity acquiring regulated telecommunications service from a small telecommunications provider. There is one subscriber for each billed line of a small telecommunications provider."
Section 2. Section 69-3-903, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-903. Notice of rate increase or decrease. (1) At least 60 days before the effective date of any rate increase or decrease proposed by a small telecommunications provider, the small telecommunications provider shall mail notice of the proposed rate increase or decrease to each affected subscriber, the commission, and the Montana consumer counsel.
(2) Notice to the commission and consumer counsel must include:
(a) a summary of the justification for the proposed rate increase;
(b) a list of the number of affected subscribers in each category of rates proposed to be increased or decreased; and
(c) if requested by the commission, a list of the names of the affected subscribers.
(3) The notice to affected subscribers may be included with regular subscriber billings and must include:
(a) a schedule of the proposed rates;
(b) the effective date of the proposed rates; and
(c) a description of the petition procedure in 69-3-906 for seeking commission review and determination of the proposed rates. If the small telecommunications provider publishes the petition procedure in a telephone directory, a reference to the location of the procedure in the directory is adequate notice."
Section 3. Section 69-3-904, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-904. Commission review and determination of rate increases or decreases. (1) When a small telecommunications provider proposes a rate increase or decrease, the commission shall review and determine the rates pursuant to the applicable procedures in this chapter if:
(a) the affected subscribers have successfully petitioned for commission review as described in 69-3-906;
(b) the small telecommunications provider requests the commission to review and determine the rates; or
(c) by the 60th day following notice of the proposed increase or decrease, the consumer counsel petitions the commission to review and determine the rates.
(2) An order of the commission issued under this section establishes the effective rate for the regulated telecommunications services covered by the order. Rates established by commission order may not be increased for a period of 6 months, except as ordered by the commission.
(3) The order of the commission is subject to review pursuant to part 4 of this chapter."
Section 4. Section 69-3-906, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-906. Petition for review of proposed rate increase or decrease. Subscribers affected by a proposed rate increase or decrease for regulated telecommunications services by a small telecommunications provider may petition the commission to review and determine the rates. The petition must identify the proposed rate increase or decrease and must be in writing and signed by a subscriber or the authorized person if the subscriber is a business account."
Section 5. Section 69-3-907, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-907. Proposed increase or decrease effective unless requisite petitions received by commission. (1) If by the 60th day following notice to subscribers of a proposed rate increase or decrease the commission has not received petitions containing signatures from at least 10% of the affected subscribers in any rate category or a petition for review from the consumer counsel, the commission shall certify this fact to the small telecommunications provider and the proposed rate increase or decrease becomes effective as published in the notice of proposed increase or decrease.
(2) If by the 60th day following notice to subscribers of a proposed rate increase or decrease the commission has received petitions containing signatures from 10% or more of the affected subscribers in any rate category or a petition for review from the consumer counsel, the commission shall notify the small telecommunications provider of this fact and shall indicate that the proposed rate increase or decrease in that rate category will not take effect as noticed. The commission shall then review and determine the rates in that category pursuant to 69-3-904.
(3) In the case of a proposed increase or decrease in rates for access services provided to interexchange carriers, a valid petition for commission review and determination of rates consists of a signature of an authorized representative of any interexchange carrier that would be affected by the access rates that are proposed to be increased or decreased."
Section 6. Regulatory flexibility upon petition by small telecommunications provider. (1) Upon application by a small telecommunications provider, the commission shall forebear from applying any regulation or any provision of this chapter to a small telecommunications provider in all or some of the small telecommunications provider's geographic markets, as stated in the application, if the commission determines that:
(a) enforcement of a regulation or provision is not necessary to ensure:
(i) that the charges, practices, or classifications are just and reasonable; or
(ii) that regulations by, for, or in connection with the small telecommunications provider are just and reasonable;
(b) enforcement of a regulation or provision is not necessary for the protection of consumers; or
(c) forbearance from regulation is consistent with the public interest.
(2) (a) A small telecommunications provider providing regulated telecommunications services may submit an application to the commission requesting that the commission exercise the authority granted in this section with respect to that small telecommunications provider or any service offered by that small telecommunications provider.
(b) A petition must be considered granted within 90 days if the commission does not deny the petition upon making specific findings under subsection (1).
(c) The commission may extend the initial 90-day period if the commission finds that the extension is necessary in order to make the findings required in subsection (1).
(3) The commission may not forbear from applying the requirements of 69-3-831 through 69-3-840.
Section 7. Codification instruction. [Section 6] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 69, chapter 3, part 9, and the provisions of Title 69, chapter 3, part 9, apply to [section 6].
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Latest Version of SB 227 (SB0227.ENR)
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