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State of Vermont

House of Representatives

Montpelier, Vermont

House Resolution

H.R. 29

House resolution relating to the future of telecommunications services in Vermont

Offered by:  Committee on Commerce

Whereas, there is broad agreement across the political spectrum that Vermont’s work force is one of the state’s most important economic assets, and

Whereas, equally essential economic assets for the 21st century are the universal availability, high quality, full-time reliability, and flexible versatility of Vermont’s telecommunications infrastructure, and

Whereas, the telecommunications infrastructure begins with the basic telephone dial tone as its foundation, and its pinnacle is universally accessible, high speed, broadband capacity for the timely transmission and receipt of large swaths of data, digital audio, and high definition video, and

Whereas, the telecommunications infrastructure is a vital tool for elementary, secondary, and higher education; industrial development, including the expansion of existing commercial facilities and attracting new ones; and health care, and for an increasing number of Vermonters who work on a part- or full-time basis from home while remaining in continuous contact with their employers often located hundreds or thousands of miles away, and

Whereas, although an increasing number of providers are participants in the state’s telecommunications network, the state’s primary local telephone service provider remains a core member of this interconnected system, and

Whereas, the New England unit of the Bell Telephone System, and its direct line of corporate descendants, now operating as Verizon New England, have been the principal local telephone (land line) company in Vermont for over a century, and

Whereas, Verizon New England’s parent corporation seeks to sell its traditional land line services in the three northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to FairPoint Communications of North Carolina, and

Whereas, this transaction requires the approval of the state telecommunications regulatory panels in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont before it can be legally consummated, and

Whereas, both Verizon New England and FairPoint Communications have jointly applied to the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) to approve this corporate proposal, an application the board has been considering as Docket 7270, and

Whereas, the PSB, in its December 21, 2007 decision on Docket 7270  commented on the positive aspects of the proposed transaction, but rejected the proposal on the grounds that the anticipated $2.5-billion debt FairPoint Communications would incur, in conjunction with the company’s other financial obligations, would adversely affect Vermont consumers, and

Whereas, among the leading critics and opponents of the deal were the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) which argued that the financial arrangements necessary to implement the proposal would also adversely affect the company’s employees, and

Whereas, Verizon New England and FairPoint renegotiated the financial terms of the proposal, and this new alternative arrangement has the support of the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) which had questioned the financial soundness of the original proposal, and




Whereas, at a recent hearing of the committee on commerce, a financial analyst representing the CWA and the IBEW testified that the revised financial arrangements, which lower the proposed debt that FairPoint Communications will incur, would still jeopardize the company’s work force and their long-term economic livelihoods, now therefore be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives:

That this legislative body requests the Public Service Board to afford due consideration to the economic sustainability of the current Verizon New England land line work force and the basic land line telephone infrastructure in Vermont in reaching its decision on the revised applications of the parties in Public Service Board Docket 7270, and be it further

Resolved:  That the clerk of the house be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Public Service Board. 

____________________________              Attested to:

Gaye R. Symington

Speaker of the House


                                                                      Donald G. Milne

                                                                      Clerk, House of Representatives

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont