MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin State Legislature has passed Special Session Senate Bill 13/Special Session Assembly Bill 14, the Wisconsin Telecom Modernization Act, which would update Wisconsin’s outdated telecommunications rules and promote investments in new technologies.
The bill overwhelmingly passed through the State Senate on a bipartisan 25-8 vote, and passed in the Assembly on a bipartisan 80-13 vote.
“From eCommerce to telemedicine, and from data centers to distance learning, this legislation will help Wisconsin create more high-tech jobs, services and investment,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “The Legislature deserves credit for working to pass these special session bills so quickly, and for bringing the benefits of modernized telecom rules to Wisconsin residents across the state.”
The legislation would modernize state statutes that have governed the telecommunications industry since 1994, thus providing incentives for investment in newer technologies – such as broadband and wireless – and eliminating outdated rules that forced companies to invest in copper-line technologies no longer desired by many consumers.
A recent study by the Discovery Institute, commissioned by the Wisconsin Technology Council and Wired Wisconsin, estimated legislation such as the bill just passed by the Legislature would create or retain more than 50,000 jobs and generate $2.6 billion in economic activity over time.
Other Midwestern states, including Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, have already passed similar legislation and have experienced positive results. Since it passed legislation in 2006, Indiana has seen nearly $1.5 billion in new telecom infrastructure. Combined, Illinois and Ohio have seen more than $1 billion in investment and nearly 29,000 jobs since mid-2010.
“The benefits of modernized telecom rules have already been seen in states across the region, and making this legislation law is crucial if Wisconsin is to keep up and create a modern, 21st Century economy,” said Thad Nation, executive director of Wired Wisconsin. “I urge Gov. Scott Walker to move swiftly and sign this bill into law, so Wisconsin can begin competing with other states in the Midwest for new jobs and new investment.”
Wired Wisconsin is the Wisconsin-based project of Midwest Consumers for Choice and Competition (MCCC), a non-profit organization of individual consumers interested in technology, broadband, and telecommunication issues with state projects throughout the Midwest region.