Each year, telecommunications companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Kansas in order to bring broadband, television and wireless services to meet the growing demands of Kansas consumers and businesses.
To the editor:
Each year, telecommunications companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Kansas in order to bring broadband, television and wireless services to meet the growing demands of Kansas consumers and businesses. This investment powers economic development and job creation throughout the state. Unfortunately, Kansas's laws have not kept pace with the rapidly evolving telecommunications industry – resulting in a number of outdated regulations.
Last week, the House took steps to address this situation by passing legislation with a near unanimous vote (118-1) to modernize Kansas telecommunications laws with practical, forward-thinking policies.
I believe that this legislation is the right step forward for Kansas for several reasons, the most important being that it will put money back in the pockets of consumers and encourage continued private sector investment in our state.
Consumers stand to benefit from the bill because it lowers a surcharge that nearly all Kansas consumers pay for as part of their telephone service. HB 2201 gives communication companies a modern framework for their services that better matches the current marketplace; providing more incentive to continue to invest in the newest and best communications technology.
As we have seen with the wireless and broadband industries, when government adopts a modern approach to technology policy, the private sector responds with increased investment and unprecedented innovation. This bill helps to ensure that our state has a green light for investment.
In fact, one major factor in the Internet's extraordinary growth is that lawmakers at all levels of government favored policies that protect consumers while also encouraging investment, innovation and job creation. The result of this light-touch regulation – more than $1.1 trillion of industry investments in the Internet since 1996 and nearly 6 million high tech jobs as of June 2012.
Wireless also thrives under a similar light-touch regulatory environment and its economic impacts are equally great. In fact, studies show that for every $1 invested in wireless broadband, it generates $7-10 for GDP and investments in high-speed mobile broadband networks are expected to create as many as 771,000 new jobs by 2016.
In Kansas, we hope to replicate the achievements of these two dynamic sectors by adopting a similarly modern approach for the rest of the communications industry. With the passage of HB 2201, the House committed to eliminate restrictions and red tape and create a competitive business environment that enables existing businesses to grow, people to start new businesses, and national and international businesses to invest in Kansas.
As Gov. Brownback declared in his State of the State address, "Let us build a better state and do it now."
As a lawmaker, I know that one of the best ways to build a better state is by passing policies that benefit consumers, help grow businesses, expand employment opportunities and promise even more investment and innovation throughout Kansas. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join the House and pass this legislation because the time is right to modernize our laws and help build a better state.