By a voice vote on Tuesday, members of the House of Representatives approved legislation, sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ), that would impose a five-year moratorium on “discriminatory” taxes imposed on wireless telecommunications services by state and local governments. Boasting 236 co-sponsors, the Wireless Tax Fairness Act (HR-1002) resembles a companion bill (S-543), introduced last March by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), that is currently pending before the Senate Finance Committee. Asserting that, in many states and municipalities, taxes on wireless services approach or even exceed “sin” taxes imposed on alcohol and tobacco, Lofgren told her colleagues that “we need to encourage the development and adoption of wireless broadband, not tax it out of existence.” In deference to state and local government advocates who argue that limits on wireless taxes will dry up already scarce revenues and thus further impair the ability of governments to fund essential public services, the Lofgren-Franks bill would apply only to new taxes. The measure would also enable states and localities to enact new wireless taxes as part of a package that raises taxes uniformly on other services and would exempt new wireless taxes that are approved by voters through a referendum. As Franks proclaimed during floor debate that the bill constitutes “a balanced approach,” Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) predicted that the measure will prevent state and local governments from using the wireless industry “as a revenue cow.” Asserting, however, that the wireless industry has not proven that taxes on their services have prevented consumers from adopting wireless broadband technologies, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) criticized the bill as “irresponsible legislation” that would force states and localities to cut spending on critical public programs. Notwithstanding Chu’s sentiments, Mobile Future Chairman Jonathan Spatler welcomed the House vote, declaring: “with wireless data traffic in North America expected to grow more than twenty-fold from 2010 to 2015, it is critical to foster an environment that promotes wireless usage and continued mobile innovation.”