House Bill No. 431

Introduced By Quilici, mills, menahan, lynch, grinde, ohs, beck, krenzler, peck, ryan, pavlovich, harrington, zook, kottel, mccarthy, grady, shea, crippen, cocchiarella, simon, mercer, benedict, mahlum, tropila, van valkenburg, wilson, harp, hertel, schmidt, pease, hibbard

A Bill for an Act entitled: An Act prohibiting the unauthorized changing of a customer's telecommunications services provider; granting rulemaking authority to the public service commission; establishing liability for violations; providing a penalty for violations; and providing an immediate effective date.


A statement of intent is required for this bill because [section 4] grants rulemaking authority to the public service commission for the purposes of preventing and punishing unauthorized changes in a customer's choice of a telecommunications services provider.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Purpose. The purpose of [sections 1 through 6] is to prohibit telecommunications carriers, including carriers not otherwise regulated by the commission, from switching a customer's telecommunications services from one telecommunications carrier to another without the customer's consent.

Section 2.  Definitions. As used in [sections 1 through 6], the following definitions apply:

(1) "Commission" means the public service commission provided for in 2-15-2602.

(2) "Customer" means a person who has purchased telecommunications services from a telecommunications carrier.

(3) "Local exchange company" means the same as provided in 53-19-302.

(4) "Primary interexchange carrier" means the telecommunications carrier from which a customer chooses to purchase long distance services.

(5) "Telecommunications carrier" or "carrier" means any provider of telecommunications services. A person providing other products and services is considered a telecommunications carrier only to the extent that the person is engaged in providing telecommunications services. The term does not mean aggregators of telecommunications services as defined in 47 U.S.C. 226.

Section 3.  Prohibition -- exceptions. (1) A telecommunications carrier may not honor a request by any person other than a customer to change the customer's primary interexchange carriers or local exchange company except:

(a) when the requesting carrier has obtained from the customer a document signed by the customer that contains clear and conspicuous disclosure of the customer's request for a change in telecommunications carrier;

(b) when the customer affected by the change initiates the contact with the carrier in order to request the change; or

(c) when the carrier who has initiated the change has obtained the customer's verbal authorization as verified by an independent third party or by electronic means in accordance with rules prescribed by the commission.

(2) The documentation required in subsection (1):

(a) must be signed by the customer responsible for paying the charges on the account held by the telecommunications carrier; and

(b) may not be a part of any sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotional program.

Section 4.  Rulemaking authority. The commission may adopt rules to implement [sections 1 through 6].

Section 5.  Telecommunications carrier liability -- penalty for violation. (1) A telecommunications carrier who initiates an unauthorized change in the customer's telecommunications carrier in violation of [section 3] is liable:

(a) to the customer for all intrastate long distance charges, interstate long distance charges, monthly service charges, carrier switching fees, and other relevant charges incurred by the customer during the period of the unauthorized change; and

(b) to the customer's original telecommunications carrier for all charges related to reinstating service to the customer.

(2) A telecommunications carrier who purposely or knowingly initiates an unauthorized change of a customer's telecommunications carrier under [section 3] is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in 46-18-212.

(3) The remedies provided by this section are in addition to any other remedies available by law.

Section 6.  Codification instruction. [Sections 1 through 6] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 69, chapter 3, and the provisions of Title 69, chapter 3, apply to [sections 1 through 6].

Section 7.  Coordination instruction. If Senate Bill No. 89 and [this act] are both passed and approved, then [section 16] of the introduced version of Senate Bill No. 89 is void.

Section 8.  Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.