To achieve broadband for all, let locals get involved

To achieve broadband for all, let locals get involved

Twenty-two states – including Louisiana – either ban or heavily restrict the ability of municipalities to establish broadband networks, according to a recent report from Broadband Now. As Andrea Noble of Route 50 reports, the acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission sees this as a major barrier to achieving universal broadband access – and one that state legislatures need to lift: 

“I hope this is an issue some of the state legislatures can revisit,” said Jessica Rosenworcel as she spoke Tuesday at a Route Fifty panel discussion about efforts to expand broadband access… “We recognize if we want to reach 100%, we have to embrace all kinds of solutions,” she said.

Louisiana’s Local Fair Competition Act of 2004 was pushed by telecom corporations such as Cox and AT&T in response to Lafayette’s municipally-owned public utility – LUS – offering broadband internet services. The law bans parish and local governments from owning or providing internet services.

A transphobic bill goes in the trash
Facing an avalanche of public opposition, State Sen. Mike Fesi has pulled his bill, Senate Bill 104, that aimed to make it impossible for trans kids to receive gender therapy and other vital healthcare services without written permission from both of their parents. Healthcare advocates, doctors, parents and trans youth themselves pushed back hard against the proposed legislation, offering 400 cards in opposition at Wednesday’s committee hearing, and pointing out that Fesi’s proposal would have had deadly consequences for children under the guardianship of parents who do not support them. Julie O’Donoghue has the story for the LA Illuminator:

(Ryan Pasternak, a New Orleans doctor who treats transgender people,) said some of his patients and their families had sobbed uncontrollably when he told them that Fesi’s legislation could interfere with their treatment. He said transgender children with single parents or grandparents overseeing their care were worried, since the legislation required that both parents be on board with treatment. “They are distraught that lawmakers would put a barrier in place to their health care and support,” Pasternak said.

Letting untrained people carry hidden guns in public
House Bill 596, by state Rep. Bryan Fontenot, would end the requirement that people who want to carry a concealed gun in public in Louisiana first take training on safe gun ownership and apply for a concealed carry permit. Yesterday, the House Criminal Justice Committee voted along party lines to move that bill forward. As Blake Paterson explains in the Advocate, Gov. John Bel Edwards – and 80% of Louisiana residents – share concerns that without the permit requirement, untrained and unsafe gun owners could become a much larger problem. 

Louisiana’s gunowners are allowed, under current law, to carry a firearm in public without a permit if the weapon is visible. To conceal it, a permit is needed. That requires undergoing a background check and a 9-hour training course. Col. Lamar Davis, the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said that when he taught concealed carry training courses, he was concerned by the lack of knowledge, concern and capability among those who entered his class. Davis added that if his students hadn’t received training, “many of them could have shot themselves right there on the range.”

A sanctuary for polluters, pollution for the rest of us
A bill by state Rep. Danny McCormick, House Bill 617, seeks to make Louisiana a “fossil fuel sanctuary state,” a move that, as proposed, would halt state enforcement of key environmental regulations. Refusing to adhere to EPA standards could mean a drop in funding for certain environmental programs and slower permitting if inspection becomes difficult or impossible. Sara Sneath explains the bill’s possible in the Louisiana Illuminator. 

“The bill was voluntarily deferred Wednesday, but Rep. Coussan vowed to work with Rep. McCormick to tighten up the language of the bill to avoid jeopardizing the state’s enforcement authority. Lawmakers painted a desperate picture of oil and gas jobs put at risk by the Democratic administration’s attempt to address climate change. But Haywood Martin, the chair of the Sierra Club Delta Chapter, said those jobs are already at risk from low oil prices and automation.”

Number of the Day
90 million – The estimated gallons of acidic and contaminated wastewater that PCS Nitrogen, a fertilizer manufacturer, seeks to treat and dump into the Mississippi River. Critics are concerned that the proposed plan would release radioactive elements into downstream drinking water systems, including in New Orleans (Source: The Advocate)