The legislation allowing video providers to negotiate a statewide franchise agreement instead of working with local governments passed Wednesday on a 66-28 vote. State Representative Kevin Peterson (R-Waupaca) says it puts Wisconsin on the "cutting edge" by increasing competition for video service. The Waupaca Republican says that will give consumers more channels to choose from and possibly lead to lower rates.
However, State Representative Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids) is among opponents of the bill who say it strips away revenue from local governments and could destroy public access television stations by possibly denying them the revenue they need to stay on the air.
State Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) cited concerns about the 16 lobbyists AT&T has working to pass the bill. He urged lawmakers to delay a vote because the bill "reeks of concern."
Lawmakers recently had large binders delivered to their offices from the AT&T backed group TV4us , which included postcards people mailed in to support the legislation. State Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Middleton) was shocked to find her name listed among those urging lawmakers to pass the bill, since she's opposed to the measure. Pope-Roberts says the group failed to address her concerns about the incident and left her suspicious about its promotional material.
Lawmakers in the Senate have delayed action on similar legislation . It's currently awaiting action in the Joint Finance Committee before the full Senate will take up the bill.