By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — A controversial telephone deregulation bill will be heard in a House committee on Thursday.
Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, chairman of the Tourism Development and Energy Committee, said Tuesday that Senate Bill 88 will get a hearing Thursday morning. The bill, being pushed by AT&T, would allow telephone companies to drop land-line services if there were comparable telephone services — such as cellular service — in an area. Areas with less than 5,000 landlines would be exempt.
Opponents of the bill have said it could would weaken oversight and erode the quality of telephone service in Kentucky.
Proponents of SB 88, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, have said the measure is key to increasing the state’s access to high-speed Internet. Bill supporters have stressed that it would not spell the end of land-line phone service in Kentucky.
The bill passed the Senate last month. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has repeatedly said he has problems with the bill.
Hall said earlier this week that he has not yet decided if the committee will vote on SB 88. Hall said he would like to hear more specifics from AT&T on how much money the company was going to invest in high-speed Internet and if that investment would create more jobs in Kentucky.