Tag Archives: lifeline

Bill Ends $3.50 Monthly Phone Discount for Low-Income Tennesseans

The House sent to Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday night a bill that eliminates a $3.50 per month discount that about 93,000 low-income Tennesseans now receive on their landline telephone bill.
The measure (SB1180) was approved by a 91-1 vote. The sole no vote came from Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, who said he approves of most provisions in the overall bill, but not the section impacting the “Lifeline” phone discount. House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said a $9.25 monthly federal discount for persons with low income will remain intact and that should be adequate.
Phone companies at one time were reimbursed by the federal government for the state-mandated discount as well, but that ended under legislation enacted by Congress last year.
The bill (SB1180), pushed by AT&T and other phone companies, was approved earlier by the Senate. It makes various other changes in state law that McCormick described as “obsolete.”

Bill Cuts ‘LifeLine’ Phone Subsidy for the Poor

About 93,000 low-income Tennesseans would pay $3.50 per month more for basic landline phone service with passage of legislation moving quickly through the Legislature with support of AT&T, a company now losing money under the present system.
“It ends a mandate to fund social programs without being reimbursed,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, in the only reference to the provision within SB1180 during a Senate committee hearing.
The measure — known as “the AT&T bill,” though Norris pointed out that it impacts other telecommunications companies as well — was approved unanimously by the Senate Commerce Committee and awaits a Senate floor vote this evening. A House committee, meanwhile, approved the companion bill last week — sponsored by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, unanimously without any discussion.
The provision on “Lifeline” service, intended to assure the poor have access to basic phone service, is part of a package to eliminate what McCormick called in brief remarks to the House committee “obsolete language” and “regulatory underbrush” that could “hinder investment in Tennessee.”

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