Summary of the House Committee Version of the Bill


CO-SPONSORS:  Steelman, Stoll (Burton)

COMMITTEE ACTION:  Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Utilities
Regulation by a vote of 17 to 5 with 2 present.

This substitute outlines procedures for public utility
right-of-way user access to the public rights-of-way.  Political
subdivisions may by ordinance require public utility right-of--
way users to obtain excavation permits and to submit plans for
anticipated construction projects requiring excavation in the
public right-of-way.  After excavation, a right-of-way user must
restore the right-of-way and surrounding areas to the equivalent
condition that existed prior to excavation.

Right-of-way permits may be denied or revoked for specified
reasons; a review process of denied or revoked permits by the
governing body of the political subdivision or a delegated body
is provided.  Right-of-way permit fees must reflect the actual
costs of managing the public right-of-way and be allocated among
all users in a nondiscriminatory manner.  Political subdivisions
must not unlawfully discriminate among users of the
right-of-way, grant preference to any right-of-way user over
another, or create unreasonable requirements for access to the
right-of-way.  Political subdivisions are prohibited from
collecting a right-of-way fee through the provision of in-kind
services by a public utility right-of-way user, except from
cable television service providers as authorized by federal
law.  The public utility right-of-way user is responsible for
all acts or omissions of contractors or subcontractors used for
excavating in the public right-of-way.

Nothing in the substitute relieves a political subdivision of
any obligations under an existing franchise or relieves a public
utility right-of-way user of the provisions of an existing
franchise, franchise fees, license, or other agreement in effect
on the bill's effective date.  Nothing in the substitute
prohibits a political subdivision or public utility right-of-way
user from renewing an existing franchise or entering into a new
franchise or prohibits a political subdivision from enacting or
enforcing an ordinance to require a business license tax, sales
tax, occupation tax, franchise tax, gross receipts tax, property
tax, or other similar tax, as long as the tax is not a condition
of using the public right-of-way.

FISCAL NOTE:  No impact on state funds.

PROPONENTS:  Supporters say that the bill ensures that consumers
are not burdened by rising costs associated with a utility doing
business in the public right-of-way.  They argue that monthly
rental fees that are being charged by some cities are hidden
taxes on customers that have no relationship to the amount of
money required to manage the right-of-way.

Testifying for the bill were Senator Steelman; Missouri
Telecommunications Industry Association; Utilicorp; Missouri
Chamber of Commerce; Area Agency of Aging, Region 10; Local
6320, Communications Workers of America; Laclede Gas; Kansas
City Power and Light; Small Telephone Company Group; Missouri
Cable Telecommunications Association; Missouri Silver-Haired
Legislature; Paraquad; and Ameren.

OPPONENTS:  Those who oppose the bill say that the control of
the public right-of-way should remain at the local level and
that the Supreme Court affirmed 100 years ago that a franchise
is in the nature of rent.  Also, they say that there is no need
for stringent legislation that restricts the flexibility of the
local authority in managing the public right-of-way and that a
one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

Testifying against the bill were Mayor of Raytown; City of
Kansas City, Public Works Department; Mid American Regional
Council; City of Winchester; City of Maryland Heights; City of
St. Louis; City of Independence; City of Trenton; St. Louis
County Municipal League; and Missouri Municipal League.

Donna Schlosser, Legislative Analyst

Copyright (c) Missouri House of Representatives

Missouri House of Representatives
Last Updated November 26, 2001 at 11:47 am