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Travis Hutson telecom bill would preempt right of way regulation

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Newly filed legislation could affect how much power local governments have to regulate the right of way when it comes to telecommunications equipment.

Sen. Travis Hutson, chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries committee, filed the “Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act” (SB 596) on Monday. The bill, among other things, would prohibit the Department of Transportation and certain local governments from prohibiting, regulating or charging for placing small wireless facilities in rights of way.

Under Hutson’s bill, local governments can’t require applicants to perform services unrelated to the approval that’s being sought, like reserving fiber or pole space for the governmental agency. It also can’t ask the applicant to “provide more information to obtain a permit than is required of electric service providers and other communications service providers that are not wire les providers.”

The bill also prohibits agencies from limiting “the placement of small wireless facilities by minimum separation distances or a maximum height limitation.” However, agencies can limit the height of a small wireless facility to no more than 10 feet above the tallest existing utility pole.

An application is automatically approved within 60 days of receipt, unless an agency approves or denies it.

The proposal has the backing of telecommunications giant AT&T.

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