Proposed congressional regs imperil digital access for rural Colorado
Authors: Cole Wist, Jack Tate - July 11, 2018 - Updated: July 11, 2018
Led by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Democrats in Congress are holding the future of America’s high-speed internet hostage. In the process, they are testing the limits of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in a blatant effort to reinstate burdensome, Obama-era regulations on the internet. Reinstating these overly prescriptive, public-utility style regulations would only serve to stifle innovation and slow the continued deployment of America’s broadband networks. This effort must be stopped.
The federal government tried imposing these regulations before, and in the two years that followed, America experienced the only drop in internet investment outside of an economic recession. That doesn’t make for a reassuring case. If passed, this woefully misguided CRA would undermine all the progress Colorado has made and continues to make in helping connect our rural towns and communities to the high-speed service they need to access vital services, from education to health care.
As both of us have repeatedly stated, this is a federal issue, and one which must be dealt with by Congress. Our concern as state legislators is for our constituents’ access to broadband and the viability of local small businesses; as such we would urge our federal counterparts to do the right thing, reject the CRA, and develop suitable legislation to deal with this issue fairly and properly.
We are unfortunately starting to see some misguided and inappropriate efforts to advocate for over-regulation of the internet at the state level. At best, having this issue dog us at the state legislature is a distraction which interferes with the important work we are trying to do in providing funding for roads, spurring job creation and career opportunities, ensuring the best possible education system for our children, and other critical issues within our jurisdiction.
Colorado homes and businesses rely on high-speed internet — every day and in nearly every aspect of our lives. Trying to score political points with their base is no excuse for Democrats to jeopardize the future of the internet. If they are serious about the net neutrality issue, they should work together with Republicans to protect a truly free and open internet by ensuring it also remains free of unfair government intervention and overregulation.
Congress needs to act quickly to establish a proper, fair, market-based regulatory framework, so the state legislature is not left holding the bag and can instead focus on the important state issues that are in our lane. Our very own U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman should be applauded for being a leader in this space in Congress, and he should continue to push for a permanent solution to this issue.