Z-1369.4  _______________________________________________


                         SENATE BILL 6622



State of Washington      55th Legislature     1998 Regular Session


By Senator Finkbeiner; by request of Utilities & Transportation Commission


Read first time 01/23/98.  Referred to Committee on Energy & Utilities.

Implementing the federal telecommunications act of 1996.

    AN ACT Relating to the implementation of the federal telecommunications act of 1996, P.L. 104-104 (110 Stat. 56); adding new sections to chapter 80.36 RCW; and creating a new section.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  (1) The commission shall establish a program for the advancement of universal telecommunications service.  The purpose of the universal service program is to benefit all telecommunications ratepayers in the state by providing for specific, sufficient, competitively neutral, and technologically neutral support for basic telecommunications services for customers of telecommunications companies in high-cost locations.

    (2) The commission shall establish the level of support that all telecommunications carriers are to provide, make assessments on the carriers to provide that support, designate those telecommunications carriers serving high-cost locations that are eligible to receive support for the benefit of their customers in those locations, and make all necessary rules for administration of the program.  The commission may delegate to the commission secretary or other staff the authority to resolve disputes or make other decisions necessary to the administration of the program.

    (3) All transfers of money necessary to provide the support shall be outside the state treasury and not be subject to appropriation.  The commission may contract with an independent program administrator subject to the direction and control of the commission and may authorize the establishment of an account or accounts in independent financial institutions should that be necessary for administration of the program.  The expenses of the independent program administrator shall be authorized by the commission and shall be paid out of contributions by the telecommunications carriers participating in the program.  The commission may require the carriers participating in the program, as part of their contribution, to pay into the public service revolving fund the costs of the commission attributable to supervision and administration of the program.

    (4) The commission shall audit, or contract with the administrator or other person to audit, telecommunications carriers that receive support under the program to ensure that they are using that support only for the purposes of the program.

    (5) The commission shall coordinate administration of the program with any federal universal service program and may administer the federal fund in conjunction with the state program if so authorized by federal law.

    (6) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

    (a) "Telecommunications carrier" has the same meaning as defined in 47 U.S.C. Sec. 153(44).

    (b) "Basic telecommunications services" includes those services defined by the commission by rule and includes at a minimum:

    (i) Single-party service;

    (ii) Voice grade access to the public switched network;

    (iii) Support for local usage;

    (iv) Dual tone multifrequency signaling (touch-tone);

    (v) Access to emergency services (911);

    (vi) Access to operator services;

    (vii) Access to interexchange services;

    (viii) Access to directory assistance; and

    (ix) Toll limitation services.

    (c) "High-cost location" means a location where the cost of providing telecommunications services is greater than a set revenue benchmark established by the commission by rule.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  The utilities and transportation commission shall report to the legislature by January 1, 1999, on the status of implementation of the program, and may make recommendations for revisions to this act.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  The commission is authorized to take actions, conduct proceedings, and enter orders as permitted or contemplated for a state commission under the federal telecommunications act of 1996, P.L. 104-104 (110 Stat. 56).  The commission may establish by rule fees to be paid by persons seeking commission action under the federal act, and by parties to proceedings under that act, to offset in whole or part the commission's expenses in implementing the act.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.  Sections 1 and 3 of this act are each added to chapter 80.36 RCW.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.  If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.


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