Terminating Telecomm

A bill freezing the largest phone rate hike in state history is stalled with just 11 days remaining in the legislative session. The bill is a top priority for many people. The AARP hopes to turn up the heat on the law.

The bill freezing phone rates is itself frozen in legislative limbo. Senate Utilities Chairman Mike Bennet is refusing to take it up.

“I see no reason to bring it up when we have got a problem with the court system out there, let's see what they are going to do," says Sen. Mike Bennet, (R) Bradenton.

Senate President Jim King is also a big obstacle, but he must now negotiate budget and other issues with the House speaker, so he is told the speaker is willing to look at a task force, but nothing more.

"I said that I would look at his bill, but that I had great reluctance in putting on the floor another issue that has already been debated twice, voted on twice," says King.

But a task force is not acceptable to the AARP, which says 89 percent of its members want the phone bill repealed. AARP is so angry that it's begun running radio ads telling people to call lawmakers.

Bentley Lipscomb, AARP FL State Director, says, "I don't know that there is anything out there that justifies the largest phone rate increase in Florida's history if we are not going to get any benefit from it."

AARP says it has up to a million dollars budgeted for ads targeting lawmakers who cross them on the phone bill and other issues. Jeb Bush says it would be wrong to go after the legislature

"I don't think the AARP should be doing political attack ads if that's what you are describing," Gov. Jeb Bush says.

With time running out on the legislative session, it will take a lot of calls and a lot of luck to get the phone bill unfrozen.

The AARP has set up a toll-free hotline for complaints about the telephone law. The number is 1-800-664-9896.


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