Responding to a wave of outreach from concerned ratepayers, Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove of the 9th Legislative District want constituents to know that they are vehemently opposed to and have voted against legislation that would deregulate telephone and cable industries in the state.
Legislation (A-3766/S-2664) entitled the “Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act” is currently pending before the State Legislature. The measure passed the Assembly on February 17, at which time Assemblyman Rumpf and Assemblywoman Gove voted ‘NO.’ The 9th District Assemblypersons were two of only seven votes against A-3766 and the only two members of their Party to vote ‘NO.’
The deregulation measure was scheduled to be voted on by the Senate on March 21.Senator Connors had every intention of voting ‘NO’ and strongly opposes the measure’s passage. However, the Senate Leadership decided to hold S-2664/A-3766 in light of strong public opposition.
Senator Connors emphasized that the bill will not receive his support if and when it is presented on the Senate floor for final approval.
As part of their continuing constituent outreach efforts on this legislative issue, Senator Connors, Assemblyman Rumpf and Assemblywoman Gove issued the following statement:
“From the outset, our Delegation harbored deep concerns over the proposed deregulation of telephone and cable services provided in the state. As ratepayers will tell you, New Jersey doesn’t have a very successful track record on deregulating utilities; case-in-point, electric rates.
“In the late 1990s, energy deregulation was unwisely seen as the answer to lower electric rates. Recognizing that the legislation proposed was unrealistic and would not provide any longterm savings to ratepayers, the 9th District Delegation was the most outspoken opponent to this poorlyconceived proposal, which ultimately passed. As we all know, increased competition among providers never materialized and electric rates have not gone down; in fact just the opposite.
“Now 10 years later, you would think that the Legislature has learned from mistakes made in the past. For good reason, our Delegation remains fearful that deregulating telephone and cable services would erode critical consumer protections and potentially drive up rates for residents who are already struggling to make ends meet in these extremely difficult economic times. There is also the issue of seniors being disproportionately impacted by this legislation, many of whom rely on landlines.