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Phone Rates

The request comes from one of the staunchest supporters of the hike, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd. Phone rates will jump $355 million over the next four years if the rate hike approved in December gets past a court test.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, once a solid supporter of the hike, is having second thoughts. Byrd says court rulings make the competition he sought impossible to achieve.

"So there is a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over this law, the only thing certain at this point, the only certainty is that local telephone rates will increase," says Rep. Johnnie Byrd, (R) Plant City.

The call is good news for consumers, but bad news for politicians, and it left the phone company lobbyists speechless.

The phone bill wasn't just a Republican effort, plenty of Democrats supported it too, so the speaker's 180 has created political problems for everybody.

Ron Klein is a democrat who voted yes.

"It was very disappointing though that the Public Service Commission just seems to rubber stamp what seemed to be a large increase without all the backup," says Sen. Klein

And those 30 out of 160 lawmakers who voted no last year are saying it old you so.

"I think it puts anyone who voted for it in a difficult position, I mean we are now saying that we had a revelation overnight," says Rep. Doug wiles, (D), St. Augustine, House Minority Leader.

But many question Byrd's motivation. He is running for the U.S. Senate. When asked if it helps his campaign, Byrd said, "If you do the right thing, I think that's what we are sent here to do."

So if good policy is good politics, a lot of people have a lot of backpedaling to do.

The bill is likely to be ready for a House floor vote as early as next week. As for the state Senate, they're taking a wait and see attitude, noting the bill was debated and passed twice in the last two years.


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