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Competition is good, but HB 142 is very bad

Americans enjoy the highest standard of living in the world because of competition, not control of natural resources.

If consumers don't like the looks or performance of one automobile, they can buy another brand. The same holds true for the food we eat and everything else we consume.

But a bill before the Missouri Legislature would limit competition in the high-speed Internet market. It would take control of Internet service away from the Missouri Public Service Commission and give it to the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

House Bill 142, according to Missouri Press Association Legislative Chairman Charles Fischer, was introduced at the request of SBC, formerly known as Southwestern Bell. Missouri's American Association of Retired Persons opposes the bill because it would likely result in higher long-distance and Internet connectivity charges for Missouri consumers.

Small service providers like McLeod USA say HB 142 will put them out of business. Any positives for SBC would be offset by loss of jobs and taxes. We're already struggling to pay for public education and we lead the nation in jobs lost.

Some of those job losses are due to SBC's decision to move its headquarters from St. Louis to Texas a few years ago. If Missouri eliminates the company's competition, how much of SBC's revenue windfall will stay in Missouri?

An SBC-sponsored bill in Connecticut was withdrawn in early March "because a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission raised questions about how federal policy and state law would intersect,'' according to the Hartford Courant.

SBC sponsored bills have been rejected in Texas, Indiana and Kansas because it was viewed as a special interest bill that would cost jobs and drive up prices.

SBC spokesman Gene Maggard says that government regulations allow resellers to purchase their services and sell them to consumers cheaper than SBC. But that doesn't make sense. If SBC wants to eliminate its competition, just lower rates so that every consumer gets the same deal as McLeod and Sprint.

Why pass laws and add new layers of regulation when SBC has solutions already at its disposal? Maybe SBC just doesn't want to offer consumers lower rates.

We urge Sen. Anita Yeckel to oppose the senate version of HB 142 which gained House approval last Friday. We urge people who are trying to hold the line on high prices to contact Yeckel and oppose this legislation.

Russia controls more natural resources within its boundaries than the United States, but our country is a better place to live and raise a family. Robust competition between businesses and the broad spectrum of consumer choices contribute to our quality of life. Bills like SBC's are simply bad for the America.

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