House Bill No. 207
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act generally revising provisions of telecommunications services for the disabled; providing for an additional member on the committee on Montana telecommunications access services for the disabled; amending sections 2-15-2212, 53-19-301, 53-19-302, 53-19-303, 53-19-304, 53-19-306, 53-19-307, 53-19-308, and 53-19-310, MCA; and providing an effective date."
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 2-15-2212, MCA, is amended to read:
"2-15-2212. Committee on telecommunications access services for the
handicapped disabled -- composition --
allocation. (1) There is a committee on Montana telecommunications access services for the handicapped disabled.
(2) The committee consists of
11 12 members appointed by the governor as follows:
(a) four members who are
handicapped disabled, two of whom must be deaf or hard-of-hearing;
(b) two members who are not
handicapped disabled, one of whom must be engaged in a business other than a business in
the telecommunications industry and one of whom must be a senior citizen;
(c) one member from the department of public health and human services;
(d) one member from the largest local exchange company in Montana;
(e) one member from an independent local exchange company;
(f) one member from an interLATA interexchange carrier;
(g) one member from the public service commission; and
(h) one member who is a licensed audiologist.
(3) The committee is allocated to the department of public health and human services for administrative purposes only as provided in 2-15-121."
Section 2. Section 53-19-301, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-301. Legislative findings and declaration. (1) The legislature finds and declares that many Montana citizens are
handicapped disabled and are unable to use traditional telecommunications equipment and services without
assistance. These citizens constitute a substantial and valuable resource within the United States and the state of Montana,
and this segment of our population needs access to telecommunications services in order to function as contributing and
productive members of our society.
(2) The legislature further finds and declares that the role of telecommunications in our world today is inestimable. Telecommunications is the primary vehicle of commerce and industry, the means to convey and receive information and knowledge, and the way we connect with others on a personal as well as business level. Telecommunications gives people independence and self-sufficiency, and it provides goods and services, human contact, and fellowship.
(3) The legislature further finds that access to telecommunications services should be provided to persons who are
handicapped disabled not only for their own sake but for the benefit of society at large. Access to telecommunications
services would enhance the business and personal lives of handicapped disabled persons, and its availability to the
handicapped disabled would be an investment of benefit to all of Montana.
(4) Consistent with the findings stated in subsections (1) through (3), the legislature finds it appropriate to provide
handicapped disabled persons access to telecommunications services by creating a program to make specialized
telecommunications equipment and services available to the handicapped disabled."
Section 3. Section 53-19-302, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-302. Definitions. As used in this part, unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Committee" means the committee on telecommunications access services for the
handicapped disabled established in
2-15-2212. (2) "Dual-party relay system" means a service that permits full and simultaneous communication between those using
telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD) and those using conventional telephone equipment. (3)(2) " HandicappedDisabled" means the condition of a person who is blind, deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired. (4)(3) "Local exchange company" means a telecommunications company that provides telephone access lines or wireless
service to members of the general public who are its customers. (5)(4) "Program" means the program established in 53-19-306. (6)(5) "Specialized telecommunications equipment" means any telecommunications device that enables or assists a person
who is handicapped disabled to communicate with others by means of the conventional telephone network. The term
includes but is not limited to telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD) text telephones (TTY), amplifiers, signaling
devices, puff-blow devices, electronic artificial larynx devices, and telebraille.
(6) "Telecommunications relay service" means a service that permits full and simultaneous communication between those using specialized telecommunications equipment and those using conventional telephone equipment.
(7) "Telephone access line" means the telephone exchange access line or channel or wireless service that provides
from the premises of a the customer of a local exchange company with access to the telecommunications network to effect
the transfer of information."
Section 4. Section 53-19-303, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-303. Term of office -- vacancies. (1) Each member of the committee shall serve for a term of 3 years
, except that
the governor shall appoint four of the initial members to serve terms of 1 year and four of the initial members to serve terms
of 2 years.
(2) A vacancy on the committee must be filled in the same manner as the original appointment."
Section 5. Section 53-19-304, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-304. Officers -- meetings -- quorum -- compensation. (1) The committee shall choose a
officer from its members.
(2) The committee shall meet at least
once every 3 months four times a year and at such other times as determined by the
chairman presiding officer or by a majority of the committee.
Six Seven members of the committee constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(4) All members of the committee are entitled to reimbursement of expenses as provided in 2-18-501 through 2-18-503. Members of the committee who are not state employees are also entitled to receive compensation of $50 for each day that they are engaged in official business of the committee."
Section 6. Section 53-19-306, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-306. Program established -- purpose. (1) The committee shall establish and administer a program to provide
specialized telecommunications equipment and services to persons who are
(2) The purpose of the program is to:
(a) furnish specialized telecommunications equipment to meet the needs of persons who are
handicapped disabled; and
(b) provide a
dual-party relay telecommunications relay service system to connect persons who are handicapped disabled
with all phases of public telecommunications service, including telecommunications service to emergency services and
public safety agencies as defined in 10-4-101."
Section 7. Section 53-19-307, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-307. Provision of services. In administering the program established in 53-19-306, the committee shall:
(1) develop an appropriate means test to determine eligibility for participation in the program;
(2) require that participants in the program be residents of Montana and that residency be maintained as a condition of eligibility for continued participation in the program;
(3) require that participants provide satisfactory evidence that they are
handicapped disabled and would benefit from the
use of specialized telecommunications equipment;
(4) provide specialized telecommunications equipment to participants
on the basis of a loan or lease arrangement that may
include cost-sharing between the handicapped person and his employer through loan, lease, cost sharing, or other methods
that are determined appropriate by the committee;
(5) determine the type of specialized telecommunications equipment it considers necessary and economically feasible for
use by Montana's
(6) purchase or lease all specialized telecommunications equipment through bid by wholesale manufacturers on a competitive basis;
(7) require, as a condition of each equipment purchase or lease, that the original manufacturer provide repair and maintenance service for new and returned equipment;
(8) maintain records of each item of equipment, including the location, serial number, and telephone number of each device;
(9) at the discretion of the committee, require an appropriate security deposit for equipment at the time of delivery
deposit that must be refunded without interest when the equipment is returned;
(10) make reasonable efforts to recover equipment from those who become ineligible for continued participation in the program;
(11) provide a
dual-party relay telecommunications relay service system that, if feasible, would be available statewide for
operation 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays; and
implement the service described in subsection (11) within 2 years following July 1, 1989; and (13) adopt rules necessary to administer the program."
Section 8. Section 53-19-308, MCA, is amended to read:
Dual-party relay Telecommunications relay service system -- requirements. The committee shall
contract with a qualified provider to design and implement a dual-party relay telecommunications relay service system that
fulfills the purpose described in 53-19-306. The committee shall require, under the terms of the contract, that:
(1) the system relay all messages promptly and accurately;
(2) the system maintain the privacy of persons using the system; and
(3) the provider preserve the confidentiality of all telephone communications, except in instances in which
confidentiality would further a violation of the law."
Section 9. Section 53-19-310, MCA, is amended to read:
"53-19-310. Fund for telecommunications services for the
handicapped disabled. (1) There is an account for
telecommunications services for the handicapped disabled in the state special revenue fund in the state treasury. The
account consists of:
(a) all monetary contributions, gifts, and grants received by the committee as provided in 53-19-309; and
(b) all charges billed and collected pursuant to 53-19-311.
(2) The money in the account is allocated to the committee for purposes of implementing this part.
(3) All expenditures of the committee in administering this part must be paid from money deposited in the account."
NEW SECTION. Section 10. Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1997.