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Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
Sponsors: Senators Richardson and Ritchie
Document Path: l:\council\bills\gjk\20346sd05.doc
Introduced in the Senate on March 22, 2005
Currently residing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary
Summary: Telephone utilities
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Date Body Action Description with journal page number ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3/22/2005 Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-8 3/22/2005 Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary SJ-8 3/24/2005 Senate Referred to Subcommittee: Moore (ch), Ford, Mescher, Rankin, Scott
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VERSIONS OF THIS BILL
TO AMEND SECTION 58-9-280, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO CERTIFICATES OF PUBLIC CONVEYANCE AND NECESSITY IN REGARD TO TELEPHONE UTILITIES AND THE SOUTH CAROLINA UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND AND THE INTERIM LEC FUND, SO AS TO REVISE THE OPERATION OF THE UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND, THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE FUND, THE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FUND, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS ADMINISTERED, AND TO PROVIDE THAT THE INTERIM LEC FUND SHALL BE TERMINATED WITHIN ONE YEAR AND TO PERMIT THE ADJUSTMENT OF TELEPHONE RATES FOR BASIC LOCAL EXCHANGE SERVICE IN ORDER TO PERMIT INCUMBENT LOCAL EXCHANGE CARRIERS TO RECOVER REVENUES LOST FROM THE CESSATION OF DISTRIBUTIONS FROM THE INTERIM LEC FUND.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 58-9-280(E) of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 6 of 2003, is further amended to read:
In continuing South Carolina's commitment to universally available basic local exchange telephone service at affordable rates and to assist with the alignment of prices and/or cost recovery with costs, and consistent with applicable federal policies, the commission shall establish a universal service fund (USF) for distribution to a carrier(s) of last resort. The commission shall issue its final order adopting such guidelines as may be necessary for the funding and management of the USF within twelve months of the effective date of this section except that the commission, upon notice, may extend that period up to an additional ninety days. These guidelines must not be inconsistent with applicable federal law and shall address, without limitation, the following:
(1) The USF shall be administered by the commission or a third party designated by the commission under guidelines to be adopted by the commission.
(2) The commission shall require all telecommunications companies providing telecommunications services within South Carolina to contribute to the USF as determined by the commission.
(3) The commission also shall require any company providing telecommunications service to contribute to the USF if, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the commission determines that the company is providing private local exchange services or radio-based local exchange services in this State that compete with a local telecommunications service provided in this State.
(4) The size of the USF shall be determined by the commission and shall be the sum of the difference, for each carrier of last resort, between its costs of providing basic local exchange services and the maximum amount it may charge for the services. The commission may use estimates to establish the size of the USF on an annual basis, provided it establishes a mechanism for adjusting any inaccuracies in the estimates.
(5) Monies in the USF shall be distributed to a carrier of last resort upon application and demonstration of the amount of the difference between its cost of providing basic local exchange services and the maximum amount it may charge for such services.
(6) The commission shall require any carrier of last resort seeking reimbursement from the fund to file the information necessary to determine the costs of providing basic local exchange telephone services. In the event that a carrier of last resort does not currently conduct detailed cost studies relating to such services, the commission shall allow for an appropriate surrogate for such study.
(7) The commission shall have the authority to make adjustments to the contribution or distribution levels based on yearly reconciliations and to order further contributions or distributions as needed.
(8) After notice and an opportunity for hearing to all affected carriers, the commission by rule may expand the set of services within the definition of universal service based on a finding that the uniform statewide demand for such additional service is such that including the service within the definition of universal service will further the public interest; provided, however, that before implementing any such finding, the commission shall provide for recovery of unrecovered costs through the USF of such additional service by the affected carrier of last resort.
(9) Nothing in subsection (G) of this section shall preclude the commission from assessing broadband service revenues for purposes of contributions to the USF, pursuant to this subsection.
In continuing South Carolina's commitment to the provision of reasonably priced access to basic local exchange services and consistent with applicable federal law, the commission shall establish a Universal Service Fund (USF). The commission shall promulgate regulations governing the operation of the fund which must not be inconsistent with federal law and which shall include:
(1) The USF must be administered by the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) or a third party designated by the ORS.
(2) The commission shall require all providers of telecommunications services including nonwireline services within South Carolina to contribute to the USF based on a share of their intrastate telecommunications revenues.
(3) In order to receive distributions from the USF, telephone companies must provide evidence that the costs to serve customers are excessive.
(4) The commission shall require any telephone company seeking reimbursement from the fund to file with the ORS the information necessary to determine the costs of providing basic local exchange telephone service.
(5) The commission shall include a low-income support component consistent with applicable federal law and reasonably designed to maximize federal assistance available to the State. Providers of telecommunications services must be required to participate in statewide outreach programs to ensure that potential participants are aware of the program.
(6) The commission shall require all providers of telecommunications services contributing to the USF to provide annual reports to the ORS containing the information necessary to administer the fund. The ORS must use this information to update annually the contributions and distributions from the fund.
(7) The ORS shall have the authority to make adjustments to the contribution and distribution levels based on yearly reconciliations and to require further contributions and distributions as needed.
(8) The commission shall require all providers of telecommunications services receiving distributions from the USF to submit information to the ORS concerning its revenues in order for the ORS to evaluate annually the need for the distributions.
(9) The ORS shall obtain an annual financial audit of the USF by an independent third party.
(10) The commission shall impose an administrative fee to cover the costs of administering the USF. This administrative fee is to be charged to the participating providers of telecommunications services.
(11) Nothing in subsection (G) of this section shall preclude the commission from assessing broadband service revenues for purposes of contributions to the USF, pursuant to the subsection."
SECTION 2. Section 58-9-280 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 6 of 2003, is further amended by adding a new subsection to read:
"(P) The Interim LEC fund established under subsection (M) must be terminated by the commission within one year of the effective date of this subsection. The commission shall allow incumbent LECs receiving distributions from the fund to adjust their rates for basic local exchange service to recover the revenues lost from the distributions. Incumbent LECs may also apply for distributions from the USF, as established in subsection (E), for those lines where the costs are excessive."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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