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April 06, 2007

Statewide Coalition Formed To Fight SB 117

This arrived in my inbox and after reading the draft legislation, I think it is really important that folks inform themselves of this significant retrogressive Ohio Senate Bill. Smart communities around the country continue to leverage Franchising Authority to create and sustain community value. This development, if it were to pass, would be very significant nail in the coffin of community partnership networking efforts. If others have insights, please share them via comments.

URGENT ACTION ALERT:
IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUESTED

Ohio Legislature Considers New State-Wide Cable/Video Franchise Bill
Divesting Local Governments Of Franchising Authority

April 4, 2007

Dear Clients and Friends,

Ohio Senate Bill 117, which was introduced on March 15, 2007, will divest Ohio local governments of their cable/video franchising authority and will cost Ohio municipalities and townships millions of dollars in revenue and telecommunications support. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the grave danger that S.B. 117 poses to municipal Home Rule authority, the fiscal health of Ohio's cities, villages and townships, and local community growth and to ask for your help in stopping the Bill.

Effectively opposing this unconstitutional proposal will take an enormous effort by local governments, school districts, and public interest organizations throughout the State of Ohio. Local governments must act now if they are to preserve their cable franchise authority and prevent further erosion of Home Rule authority. Therefore, we request your immediate participation in the opposition to S.B. 117 through local legislative action, voicing your objection to the State Legislature, and providing a contribution toward the necessary funding of the efforts of Local Voice Ohio, a non-profit, state-wide coalition working to stop the Bill.

Threat Analysis:

A full summary of S.B. 117 is presented in the enclosed Client Briefing. As you will see, the Bill:

► Slashes franchise fees paid to communities by cable television operators by reducing the revenue base upon which they are calculated.

► Allows cable operators to abandon their current cable franchises.

► Significantly reduces local control of the Public Right Of Way (PROW).

► Bans Institutional Networks provided by cable companies for schools and local governments.

► Severely limits Public, Educational & Governmental (PEG) Access Channels.

► Eliminates Funding for PEG Access.

There is no doubt that S.B. 117 is an unmitigated financial disaster for Ohio municipalities and townships and it is bad for Ohio's schools. In addition, it's bad for cable subscribers. The only parties who will benefit from S.B. 117 are large and highly profitable cable and telecommunications companies.

Action Requested:

1) Become knowledgeable about the effects that S.B. 117 will have on your community by reviewing the enclosed Client Briefing.

2) Lobby your local government to pass legislation that formally objects to S.B. 117. A sample Resolution is enclosed.

3) Make a contribution to Local Voice Ohio’s efforts to do the following on behalf of local Ohio governments: (1) perform legislative analysis; (2) grow a diverse and vibrant local government coalition; (3) prepare model resolutions and letters to state legislators; (4) prepare "talking points" for use in connection with face-to-face meetings with legislators; (5) lobby to oppose and/or change the current proposed Bill; (6) work to identify and prepare pro-local government witnesses for Senate hearings; and (7) develop legal strategy concerning S.B. 117.

As discussed in the attached Client Briefing, S.B. 117 would reduce franchise fees in many communities by as much as 10-20%. Based upon our estimate of the work involved in the above-described activities, we suggest a contribution to Local Voice Ohio in the amount of 3% of your community’s annual franchise fee revenue. Alternatively, we suggest the following minimum levels of support:

Villages & Townships (population < 1,000)...................................................$500

Villages & Townships (population 1,000 - 4,999)..........................................$1,000

Cities & Townships (population 5,000 - 9,999)..............................................$1,250

Cities & Townships (population 10,000 - 14,999)..........................................$1,500

Communities with populations of 15,000 or greater...........................10¢ per resident

Timing:

Time is of the essence in gearing up to try to counter the huge cable & telephone lobbying efforts. The Sponsor's introduction hearing has already been held and additional critical hearings will take place this month (April). In order for Local Voice Ohio (LVO) to effectively mount opposition, funding will be needed by April 13, 2007. Please mail the detachable portion below with your contribution, and make checks payable to: Local Voice Ohio, Inc. You may receive other requests for support from other organizations assisting Local Voice Ohio and/or from LVO directly, or you may already have received such correspondence. If so, we apologize for any inconvenience but urge you to support LVO.

Questions/Further Information:

With 75 years of public law experience and having represented hundreds of Ohio municipalities and townships in telecommunications and cable television franchising matters, Walter & Haverfield LLP is uniquely positioned to assist Local Voice Ohio (LVO) in this vital effort on behalf of Ohio’s local governments, school districts, and public interest groups. Please contact Bill Hanna [(216) 928-2940;whanna@walterhav.com] or Todd Hunt [(216) 928-2935; rthunt@walterhav.com] with any questions, or log on to www.localvoiceohio.com.

Sincerely,

Walter & Haverfield LLP, on behalf of
Local Voice Ohio, Inc.

Posted by lsg8 at April 6, 2007 12:17 PM

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