The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - At the State Capitol on Wednesday, September 24, the Senate Interim Committee on Economic Development met to discuss charges laid out by Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock. Leading the committee's agenda were discussions of increased competition among telephone companies in Texas. Members heard invited panel testimony from representatives of Southwestern Bell, AT&T, GTE, MCI, the Office of Public Utility Counsel and the Public Utility Commission.
The committee's Chair is Senator David Sibley of Waco and includes Senators Rodney Ellis of Houston, Tom Haywood of Wichita Falls, Frank Madla of San Antonio, Steve Ogden of Bryan, Florence Shapiro of Plano, and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso.
Texas' phone industry is dominated by area monopolies with unregulated prices and no competition. This results in consumers paying high access rates and service charges that are substantially above cost. According to Suzie Ray McClellan of the Office of Public Utility Counsel, allowing more competition into the local and long-distance telephone markets will yield lower rates and more choices to consumers.
The next Economic Development Committee meeting is scheduled for October 22 in the Senate Chamber.