Last Friday, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers re-introduced legislation that would extend  permanently provisions of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) that prohibit state and local governments from collecting taxes  on Internet access in all but a few grandfathered jurisdictions.   That bill was followed by the re-introduction by House  Communications

Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) of legislation that would block FCC efforts to  reclassify broadband Internet access as a common carrier telecommunications service under Title II of the 1934  Communications Act.

Sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking House  Communications & Technology Subcommittee member Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the Permanent Internet Tax  Freedom Act (PITFA) resembles a similar bill that passed the House last year but stalled in the  Senate. The IFTA has been extended five times since 1998, and House and Senate lawmakers recently  included language in must-pass appropriations legislation that extends the IFTA until October 1 of  this year. Applauding that extension as “a necessary measure to avoid expiration of the ban that  has protected access to broadband for every American and protected the growth of our digital  economy,” Eshoo described the permanent Internet tax ban proposed by the PITFA as “the next crucial  step.” Goodlatte agreed, stating “the time has come to make this ban permanent” as “all Americans  benefit from tax-free access to the Internet.”

Meanwhile, the Title II blocking bill revives a similar effort undertaken by Latta last May with  the support of the cable industry. Introduced in the wake of FCC Chairman Wheeler’s speech at the  Consumer Electronics Show last week, the Latta bill would amend the Communications Act to specify  that Title II regulations cannot be applied to information services and that broadband Internet  access qualifies as an information service. Characterizing the FCC’s proposal to reclassify  broadband under Title II as “misguided,” Latta cautioned that “imposing monopoly-era telephone  rules on a 21st century industry . . . will undoubtedly impede the economic growth and innovation  that has resulted in the broadband marketplace absent government interference.” Latta further  maintained that his bill “provides the certainty needed for continued investment in broadband  networks that have been fundamental for job creation, productivity and consumer choice.”