The state Senate has passed a video competition bill which aims to deregulate the cable industry in the Wisconsin. A lengthy debate Thursday saw Senators offer more than twenty amendments to the controversial legislation authored by South Milwaukee Democrat, Jeff Plale. “This is after all till an art of compromise,” said Plale. “I think this bill is a very good bill.” Plale and supporters have argued it will decrease cable costs in the long run. Opponents maintain the bill will do nothing to help consumers in underserved areas of rural Wisconsin.
Among Senators who did not think the bill was very good — or even needed — Plale's fellow Democrat, Jon Erpenbach of Middleton. “There's 16 small phone companies right now, doing what AT&T wants to do,” said Erpenbach. “We don't need this legislation.” The most ambitious of the amendments offered would have resulted in a major rewrite of the bill, and was based on legislation passed in Illinois. That effort was beaten back, and in the end just a handful of amendments comprising minor changes were approved. That sends the bill back to the Assembly for concurrence: that chamber had previously passed the bill by an overwhelming margin, and Governor Jim Doyle is expected to sign it. Opponents of the controversial measure have argued that it's a creature of lobbying pressure by AT&T.