Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) have introduced legislation in response to the Federal Communications Vote this past week that would regulate Internet service providers more like traditional telephone companies.
In a 3-2 vote, the FCC set rules that would ban Internet providers from blocking and unfairly slowing down any web traffic on their pipes or striking deals with content companies for faster or smoother downloads, among other things. The vote is expected to trigger a series of lawsuits from the providers who argue that the new regulations will be a burden to their investments and stifle innovation which ultimately will harm consumers.
The legislation (H.R. 1106) states that the FCC cannot pre-empt states with municipal broadband laws already on the books, or any other states that subsequently adopt such municipal broadband laws. The bill also includes a Sense of Congress stating that the FCC does not have the legal authority to prohibit states from implementing municipal broadband restrictions.
Original co-sponsors of the House legislation included Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and David Rouzer (R-NC).
“The FCC’s decision to grant the petitions of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina is a troubling power grab,” Blackburn said. “States are sovereign entities that have Constitutional rights, which should be respected rather than trampled upon. They know best how to manage their limited taxpayer dollars and financial ventures. Ironically, they will now be burdened by the poor judgment of a federal government that is over $18 trillion in debt and clearly cannot manage its own affairs.”
Tillis added, “It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws. Representative Blackburn and I recognize the need for Congress to step in and take action to keep unelected bureaucrats from acting contrary to the expressed will of the American people through their state legislatures.”