Municipalities Fight Bill “Granting Privileges to a Single Industry”

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In the Virginia capital of Richmond, municipalities are lobbying lawmakers to vote down a bill to govern local approval of cell towers. The bill is part of fierce debate as the General Assembly is in session.

The Virginia Municipal League, which represents the interests of cities, counties and towns, is fighting the legislation, saying it would eliminate local authority and give wireless companies access to local property that no other non-public entity has, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “This bill grants special privileges to a single industry at the expense of the local taxpayers,” according to talking points the Virginia Municipal League has been sharing with lawmakers. “Forced use of public property and right-of-way without adequate compensation forces taxpayers to subsidize a single industry.”

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan is regulatory counsel for Verizon in Virginia and Washington, D.C. She recused herself when State Bill 1282 came up for a vote. It passed 21-18.  

“I’ve been providing legal support and legal interpretation to Verizon on what the bill means and what proposed changes to the bill mean, and as part of that have been participating in negotiations between Verizon and the stakeholders,” McClellan told the Richmond Times-Dispatch after Friday’s floor vote. She said she has not discussed the measure “substantively” with lawmakers.

Virginia, like many states, has a part-time legislature; that can make things tricky for lawmakers, who may have legal, personal or business in bills. Negotiations continue over SB 1282 and its House companion measure HB 2196.

February 7, 2017

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