PRESERVING THE ROLE AND RIGHTS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN A
NEW TELECOMMUNICATIONS AGE
WHEREAS, communications and information technologies have
become essential infrastructure in the nation's
WHEREAS, modern communications infrastructure is integral
to efficient, equitable, and affordable public services,
including public safety, health care, social services,
education and job training, transportation and other
governmental services; and
WHEREAS, affordable and modern communications
infrastructure enhances each community's quality of life
through the efficient information dissemination and access,
resulting in increased productivity, new economic
opportunities, and an improved cultural life; and
WHEREAS, modern communications services are increasingly
able to reach end-users over multiple transmission
platforms, including cable television, telephone, cellular,
broadcasting, satellite and power line platforms; and
WHEREAS, cities invest substantial resources in the construction
and maintenance of public rights-of-way which are heavily used
by and useful to modern communications transmission platforms;
WHEREAS, many members of Congress, Federal Communications
Commissioners and members of the communications industries
claim that the federal Communications Act is obsolete and
unable to accommodate modern communications technologies;
WHEREAS, Mayors support the development and deployment of
new and emerging communications technologies and the
services and competition such technologies make available;
WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors has played
a major role in every communications legislative discussion
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States
Conference of Mayors resolves that the Congress should
accommodate the interests of local governments in any revision or amendments to the federal Communications Act.
At a minimum, Congress must:
Respect the rights of local governments to act in the
best interests of their citizens as the owners/trustees
of the local rights-of-way. Local governments must
retain the unimpeded right to manage their rights-of-way
and to receive compensation for use of the rights-of-way
by any communications providers. Compensation must
include the recovery of all rights-of-way costs
associated with such use and the fair market value of the
rights used by communications transmission platforms.
Honor fundamental principles of federalism and
preserve state and local authority to raise revenues
through appropriate taxes and fees and to collect
compensation for proprietary use of public property.
Congress must not interfere with or limit the
ability of state and local governments to provide
essential governmental services or to require
communications service providers to meet community
obligations such as universal service, 911 and
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Honor the sovereignty of state and local governments
and their related police powers to protect citizens
from consumer abuse and mistreatment. This
includes, among other things, assuring
communications service providers of voice, video and
data services comply with minimal quality of service
and consumer protection standards.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that USCM specifically recommends
Congress should take the following actions:
Confirm Congress's intent in 1996 to preserve local
governments’ ability to collect fair market value
from communications transmission platforms for
proprietary use of public property, including the
rights-of-way. Acknowledge that 47 U.S.C. §253 (c)
allows local governments to collect right-of-way
compensation related to the value of the use
permitted, not limited to the impact costs.
Extend the protections of 47 U.S.C. 555(a) to any
claim arising under the Communications Act. This
provision currently limits local government
liability for cable television franchise-related
activities to injunctive and declaratory relief.
Clarify that 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988, which
provide damages and attorney fees in civil rights actions, do not apply to Communications Act claims
against state and local governments.
Clarify that local governments are "entities"
protected by 47 U.S.C. §253 (a).
Preserve local governments' zoning authority over
the placement, construction or modification of all
wireless facilities, including commercial mobile
radio service facilities. State and federal courts
should remain the only tribunals for hearing appeals
from zoning decisions under 47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(7).
Amend the term "gross revenues" subject to cable
system franchise fees in 47 U.S.C. §542 to include
all revenues except telecommunications service
revenue within 47 U.S.C. § 253(c).
Clarify that local governments retain police power
authority over all communications facilities placed
in the rights-of-way, whether or not used by