By K.B. Sherman,Contributing Writer
Grafton – Grafton selectmen spent some time at the Nov. 3 meeting discussing giving Town Administrator Timothy McInerney permission to send a letter of opposition to the Massachusetts House of Representatives regarding “An Act to modernize communications policy for voice services,” a bill introduced by Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, and co-sponsored by representatives Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, and Sheila C. Harrington, R-Groton.
This bill was filed Jan. 14, and was first referred to the House Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Jan. 20. The Senate concurred on the same date. A joint hearing is now scheduled for Nov. 10 at the State House.
According to a spokesperson at the website TrackBill, the bill would Amend Chapter 25 (dealing with public utilities) by changing how telephone service rates can be set. The selectmen’s agenda addressed this by voting to authorize a letter of opposition to what they see as an attempt to remove common carrier classifications that now effect customer rates that currently benefit local residents.
Planning Board member Robert Hassinger addressed the selectmen, claiming that this bill is an attempt by the phone companies to bring back deregulated rates. He said that town counsel encouraged individual towns to speak out against this bill “as it’s in the interest of the town’s citizens” to keep the cable companies from also trying for looser regulations.
According to Hassinger, the proposed bill would lessen existing customer protection and could lead to unfavorable pricing for cable services.
After a discussion by the board, members decided to reach out to Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, to give its input before a letter is sent to the legislature.