The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Briefing.
The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology passed six of the seven bills it considered during its April 18-19 mark-up, including H.R. 4884, the CURB Lifeline Act that would cap the federal Lifeline fund at $1.5 billion, prohibit the use of the subsidy for devices, and phase-out the subsidy for voice only service for mobile. See the Regulatory Mix dated 4/15/16.
Other bills passed include H.R. 2031, Anti-Swatting Act of 2015, H.R. 3998, Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act, H.R. 4111, Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, H.R. 4167, Kari’s Law Act of 2015, and H.R. 4190, Spectrum Challenge Prize of 2015.
The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement in a cramming case brought against American eVoice and eight other companies as well as three individuals. The original complaint alleged that the Missoula, Montana-area defendants placed more than $70 million in bogus charges on consumers’ phone bills and then transferred the proceeds from their illegal cramming operation to a purported non-profit, Bibliologic, Ltd. Under the terms of the settlement, Bibliologic, Ltd. will be required to surrender nearly all of its assets, including a large tract of land, the contents of multiple bank and investment accounts, gold and silver, and several vehicles. Bibliologic will be allowed to retain $100,000 that must be used for charitable purposes. The settlement imposes a suspended monetary judgment of $100,000 that will become due should any of the money retained by Bibliologic be used for the benefit of any defendant in this case. The FTC filed a proposed order memorializing the settlement in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana for the Court’s approval.
Inmate Calling Services Appeal
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has released a briefing schedule in connection with the appeal of the FCC’s Inmate Calling Services (ICS) order. Initial briefs from ICS provider petitioners, state and local government petitioners, and their supporting intervenors are due June 6, 2016. The FCC’s brief is due August 5, 2016, while the briefs of the intervenors supporting the FCC are due August 22, 2016. Reply briefs for petitioners and their supporting intervenors are due September 21, 2016. Final briefs are due October 5, 2016. A date for oral argument has not yet been set.
ACA 11 (the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016), which was introduced last month, would authorize the Legislature to reallocate or reassign all or a portion of the functions of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to other state agencies, departments, boards, or other entities, consistent with specified purposes. Specifically, this constitutional amendment:
- Repeals the provisions of the California Constitution pertaining to the CPUC effective January 1, 2019.
- Specifies that a statute that was valid at the time the statute was enacted is not invalid by virtue of the repeal of those constitutional provisions.
- Authorizes the Legislature to reallocate or reassign all or a portion of the functions of the CPUC to other state agencies, departments, boards, or other entities, consistent with specified purposes.
- Directs the Legislature to adopt appropriate structures to provide greater accountability for the public utilities of the state and provide the necessary guidance to the CPUC to focus its regulatory efforts on safety, reliability, and rate setting and to implement statutorily authorized programs for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.