House Bill 176: Karla Drenner- The People’s Representative vs. Corporate-Controlled Representatives
Flaws remain in bill
By Karla Drenner
House Bill 176, the Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development (BILD) Act, has rapidly made its way through the Georgia House. Its swift passage concerns me, and I stand in opposition to it for three reasons.
This bill is blatantly misleading. It allows private entities to have access to public lands to profit without regard to the local communities. And it strips governments of local control.
The Mobile BILD Act claims to allow for a more streamlined permitting process for new cellphone towers and the expansion of existing ones. It calls for shorter application review times, less regulation and limitations fees.
Supporters of HB 176 suggest more bandwidth and infrastructure is needed to attract business and improve public safety. This argument is profoundly misleading.
The cellphone industry wants people to believe more cell towers are important for public safety. However, public safety officials do not rely on phone service for critical communications. In DeKalb County, it is provided by a radio tower atop Stone Mountain — not a proprietary cellular service.
Moreover, nothing in the current version of HB 176 prevents for-profit entities from constructing cell towers on public land, including on or near school properties or land zoned residential. In 2010, I included a non-binding referendum on the primary ballot asking if schools should allow cell towers on school property. The overwhelming response was “no.”
Some of my colleagues with districts in DeKalb have also voiced concern about the possibility of towers being built on school grounds. Communities should be protected from such risks. Erecting new cellphone towers or expanding current ones on or near schools or in neighborhoods are legitimate concerns.
Lastly, HB 176 would strip local governments of their decision-making power. Cities are already obliged to adhere to tight FCC “shot clock” regulations. Currently, cities must make a formal decision in writing to approve or deny an application for a new tower within 150 days. Local governments have 30 days to notify an applicant for a new tower if more information is needed.
This bill would further tighten the time constraints. If a county does not respond within a set time, the cellphone tower is automatically approved. Local government control would be superseded; the for-profit entity would have its way.
It is worth noting that communications companies tend to invest in communities where there is significant local regulation; the best coverage is in these areas. Conversely, the poorest coverage areas have the least amounts of regulation. Minimal regulation does nothing to foster capital investment and improve service.
The Mobile BILD Act was first introduced last year, but was defeated because of its blatant push against local authority. It remains flawed.
State Rep. Karla Drenner, a Democrat, represents District 85.
How did your House Representatives vote? How will your Senate Representatives vote?
Which elected officials value private property rights and local control? Which elected officials value corporate demands over the will of the people who hire them (elected officials) with their vote and pay them with their tax money. The elected officials’ actions (vote) will tell if they are corporate-controlled representatives or the people’s representatives!
Please view the Georgia General Assembly 2013-2014 Regular Session House Vote on HB176.
July 2012 Voter Referendum Results – Cell Towers on School Grounds?
Graph from Get The Cell Out Atl. Org
How did the DeKalb Delegation (House) vote on HB 176?
THESE ARE THE ELECTED OFFICIALS THAT VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES:
1. ABRAMS, 89TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
2. ANDERSON, 92ND – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
3. BENNETT, 94TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
4. DAWKINS-HAIGLER, 91ST – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
5. JACOBS, 80TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
6. KENDRICK, RD – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
7. MITCHELL, 88TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
8. MOSBY, 83RD – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
9. STEPHENSON, 90TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
10. TAYLOR, 79TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
11. WILLIAMS, 87TH – VOTED WITH THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES
THESE ARE THE ELECTED OFFFICIALS (PUBLIC SERVANTS) THAT VOTED WITH THE PEOPLE:
1. DRENNER, 85TH – VOTED WITH THE PEOPLE
2. HENSON, 86TH – VOTED WITH THE PEOPLE
3. HOLCOMB, 81ST – VOTED WITH THE PEOPLE
4. OLIVER, 82ND – VOTED WITH THE PEOPLE
ONE ELECTED OFFICIALS DID NOT VOTE:
MAYO, 84TH – DID NOT VOTE (THIS WILL COUNT TOWARD TELECOM CORP)
How will the DeKalb Delegation (Senate) vote on HB 176?