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Legislative Memo

BILL:

A.60 (Sanders) / S.1913 (Robach)

Support

SUBJECT:

Telephone Access for all New Yorkers

 

DATE:

May 9, 2005

 

This legislation directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to implement a program to distribute,
“at no cost to the recipients”, assistive telecommunications devices to persons with any one of a
variety of handicaps, including but not limited to, those who are deaf, blind, or speech impaired.
In essence, this bill provides a lifetime entitlement of free assistive telecommunications
equipment to disabled residents without any consideration of the person's ability to pay (with one
limited exception).

Not only would the telephone companies be required to distribute this equipment to disabled
customers, but they would be required to update this equipment as new technologies are
developed. Additionally, there is no limit on the number of devices a household can receive under
this bill.

Telephone companies providing local telephone service (who are under PSC jurisdiction) would be
required to pay for this equipment, thus adding yet another monthly surcharge to all customers'
bills. This hidden tax on a select group of providers only serves to make them less competitive in
the highly competitive telecommunications market.

For the foregoing and other reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and requests it
not be approved.