CWA and Seniors Kill NJ Deregulation Bill

When the so-called Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly in 2011, it quickly passed by a large majority. But, then it ran into a firestorm of opposition, principally from senior and community groups - and CWA - who kept the bill from passage in the state senate. According to a New Jersey newspaper:

"Each time it was beaten back by a barrage of protests from seniors and other residents, who complained that loosened regulations would leave them with no defense against higher bills and reduced services."

And then, in a surprise, on October 15, 2012 the bill was quietly withdrawn and is, for the moment, dead.

The bill was mildly described by its sponsors as one which "alters State regulation of competitive services provided by telecommunications and CATV companies." What it actually did was to remove any meaningful consumer protections from basic telephone service. "A chief concern of critics," said the Asbury Park Press, "is that the price of basic telephone service, if deregulated, could increase, low-income residents and senior citizens, including those that are homebound, who depend on local telephone service as a lifeline."

For the moment, though, their landlines are safe. It was a clear win for the community and a loss for big business.

Senior groups rail against telecom act (Asbury Park Press, Oct. 4, 2012)

New Jersey Senate Bill No. 877, 215th Session