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Public Policy

Maine Connectivity Authority works actively with local, state, and federal policy-makers to ensure that we can accomplish our mission of ensuring everyone in Maine has a reliable affordable internet connection by effectively deploying funding broadband infrastructure and ensuring digital equity for all Mainers.

 

Our testimony and policy decisions are made in conjunction with partners such as community organizations, Maine Broadband Coalition, Internet Service Providers, and others.  

MCA Contact

Kiera Reardon

State Policy & Agency Partnerships Manager

kreardon@maineconnectivity.org  |  (207) 370-4123

Maine State House photo

Recent Testimony & Policy Updates: Spring 2024

LD 240  - An Act to Expand Broadband Internet Access Choice

  • Committee - Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT) Sponsor - Representative Zeigler

  • What does the bill propose - This bill seeks to provide tenants with the right to request service directly from an internet service provider.

  • What is MCA's position - Neither for nor against

  • Why is that our position -  We appreciate the intent of this legislation and are unclear on costs and considerations from a property rights perspective. Explicitly aligning legislative requirements with the State Five Year Broadband Master Plan and Digital Equity strategy will allow MCA to support such policies.

  • Bill status - Ought To Pass As Amended - The bill was amended to a resolve charging the Maine Connectivity Authority with studying this issue with input from stakeholders and drafting potential legislation for review in January 2025

LD 373 - An Act to Improve Labor Conditions for Maine Workers

  • Committee - Labor and Housing Sponsor - Senator Tipping

  • What does the bill propose - The bill proposes to require Harmony Agreements for all grants or contracts offered by the Maine Connectivity Authority and extends to contractors and subcontractors engaged in broadband expansion.

  • What is MCA's position - Ought Not to Pass

  • Why is that our position - While the ideas outlined in LD 373 align with principles championed by MCA, the bill risks impacting the very tight federally-imposed timelines Maine has to deploy hundreds of millions of dollars of investment.

  • Bill status - Tabled in Committee as of 02/15

Mapping Broadband Service Level by Legislative District

Testimony & Policy Updates: Fall 2023

LD 1967 - An Act to Support Municipal Franchise Agreements

  • Committee - Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT). Sponsor - Representative Sachs

  • What does the bill propose - This bill seeks to amend numerous aspects of the laws governing municipal cable franchise agreements.  It provides a pathway for mediation between network operators and municipalities through the Public Utilities Commission and clarifies the line extension criteria.

  • What is MCA's position - Support the bill as amended

  • Why is that our position -  MCA is supportive of this legislation, specifically as it aims to clarify the line extension language in the current statute.  Network operators and municipalities read the 15 homes per mile language differently and it impacts the number of homes receiving broadband services.  Providing clarity to this language will ensure that all parties agree on which locations should receive service through a franchise agreement.

  • Bill status - Divided report out of Committee: Ought to Pass as Amended/Ought Not To Pass 7-4

Testimony & Policy Updates: Spring 2023

LD 1065 - An Act to Improve the Telecommunications Relay
Services Council by Reducing Its Membership and Allowing
for the Hiring of an Executive Director

  • Committee - Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT). Sponsor - Representative Pierce

  • What does the bill propose - As amended, the bill removes two long-vacant positions from the Maine Telecommunications Relay Services Council and adds a permanent seat on the Council for the Maine Connectivity Authority.  The bill also authorizes the Council to hire a part-time Executive Director with current funds.

  • What is MCA's position - Support the bill as amended

  • Why is that our position - This modification provides more stability to the TRS Council with paid staff and a more reliable Council quorum.  As relay services transition from analog to digital by the end of 2023, MCA is uniquely positioned to advocate for the interests of the deaf, late-deafened, hard of hearing and speech impaired community who rely on broadband for communication services.

  • Bill status - EUT voted unanimously Ought to Pass as Amended
     

LD 1223 - An Act to Clarify Cost Allocations and Insurance
in the Joint Use of Public Utility Equipment

  • Committee - Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT). Sponsor - Senator Grohoski

  • What does the bill propose - As amended, the bill seeks to remove the pole attachment provision requiring municipalities to waive their immunity under the Maine Tort Claims Act and limit the amount of general liability insurance required by pole owners.

  • What is MCA's position - Support the bill as amended

  • Why is that our position - Municipally owned projects face different barriers than private and public-private projects.  The general liability insurance requirement is a cost barrier to small municipal networks as they must obtain the insurance 12-24 months before bringing the network online and generating revenue. 

  • Bill status - EUT voted unanimously Ought to Pass as Amended

     

LD 1456 - An Act to Facilitate the Expansion of Broadband

  • Committee - Energy, Utilities and Technology. Sponsor -Senator Grohoski

  • What does the bill propose - As amended, this bill charges the Public Utilities Commission in consultation with the Maine Connectivity Authority and input and analysis from the Interagency Broadband Working Group to undertake a study of pole attachment laws and rules and how the impact varies depending on project type.

  • What is MCA's position - Support the bill as amended

  • Why is that our position - The amended language provides a mechanism to gather empirical data on the issues of utility pole access that we hear about daily.  The “make-ready process” is intended to ensure coordinated equipment installation onto the precious limited space on a utility pole yet is fraught with complications that can delay or even jeopardize a broadband project’s viability.  The study components will provide necessary insight into these issues as we prepare for a phase of broadband infrastructure deployment 20 times current levels. 

  • Bill status - EUT voted unanimously Ought to Pass as Amended


 

LD 1504 - An Act to Exempt Broadband Equipment from the

Sales and Use Tax

  • Committee - Taxation.  Sponsor - Representative Terry

  • What does the bill propose - The bill proposes a sales tax exemption for equipment used in the deployment of broadband and video services.

  • What is MCA's position - MCA opposed the bill as originally presented, but is working with the Committee and bill sponsor to modify the language to more directly benefit Maine broadband expansion.

  • Why is that our position - As proposed, the bill did not have any required reinvestment of savings into Maine’s broadband landscape.  Modifications are in discussion that would transition this from a sales tax exemption to a sales tax credit if the company can demonstrate private investment in unserved or underserved areas in the previous calendar year.

  • Bill Status - Taxation voted Ought Not To Pass


 

LD 1791 - An Act to Make the ConnectMaine Authority
Responsible for Attachments to and Joint Use of Utility Poles and
to Establish Procedures for Broadband Service Infrastructure Crossing Railroad Tracks

  • Committee - Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT).  Sponsor - Senator Bennett

  • What does the bill propose - As drafted, the bill would make three significant changes: 1) designate the ConnectMaine Authority as the entity responsible for pole attachment regulation; 2) include make-ready costs and processes within the subjects regulated under the applicable statute, 35-A M.R.S. § 711; and 3) define a process, timelines, and fees for railroad crossings by broadband service providers.

  • What is MCA's position - Support

  • Why is that our position - Reducing barriers to broadband deployment is one of MCA’s top strategic priorities.  This bill highlights several areas of the pole attachment process that need refinement to handle the influx of Federal funding that bog down current processes.  While we do not support moving regulatory oversight from the Public Utilities Commission to MCA, we are supportive of the continued dialogue and process improvement that this bill facilitates.

  • Bill Status - EUT voted unanimously Ought Not To Pass

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Policy Map
Fall 2023
Spring 2023
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