WHEREAS, communications and information technologies have become essential infrastructure in the nation's communities; and

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; and

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Communications Commissioners and members of the communications industries claim that the federal Communications Act is obsolete and unable to accommodate modern communications technologies; and

WHEREAS, Mayors support the development and deployment of new and emerging communications technologies and the services and competition such technologies make available; and

WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors has played a major role in every communications legislative discussion since 1984.

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 information services.
  • ©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
    Tom Cochran, Executive Director
    1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
    Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352