Connecticut won’t be in the forefront of states attempting to reinstate net neutrality rules -- for the moment at least. A bill that would have required internet service providers to give a level playing field to all internet content died in committee this week.
Net neutrality rules have been repealed at the federal level by the Trump administration. But at least 30 states are considering bills to re-regulate internet traffic.
Democratic Representative Derek Slap told his fellow lawmakers he believes it’s essential for states to take action in the absence of federal regulation.
“I think there are few things that are more important to our economy than an open internet. And that is in jeopardy right now,” said Slap.
Republican Senator Tony Hwang said he voted no because he believes the state might open itself to litigation over whether it has the jurisdiction to regulate an interstate resource.
“The state of Connecticut can and should play a productive role in this conversation by calling for a federal legislative solution and providing input on how to best protect the consumers," said Hwang. "It is ultimately a federal issue.”
There was controversy over the way the vote on the bill was handled in the Energy and Technology Committee. Senator Paul Formica exercised his privilege as co-chair to split the vote between Senate members and House members. State senators voting first were able to defeat the bill before House members had a say.
After the vote the bill's principal sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff blasted the committee vote.
"I hoped that we in Connecticut could rise above politics to protect consumers and small businesses,” Duff said in a statement. “States like Oregon and Washington have already passed net neutrality protections on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans here in Connecticut chose to stand with big business and President Trump instead of the people of our state.”