Florida Senate - 2010                                    SB 1656
       By Senator Gelber
       35-01352-10                                           20101656__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to access to telecommunications
    3         service; amending s. 427.704, F.S.; directing the
    4         Public Service Commission to establish a statewide
    5         telecommunication system capable of providing audible
    6         universal information access service to persons who
    7         are visually impaired or unable to communicate using a
    8         print medium; authorizing the commission to contract
    9         for the administration and operation of the system;
   10         providing for funding of the system; providing an
   11         effective date.
   13  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   15         Section 1. Section 427.704, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   16  read:
   17         427.704 Powers and duties of the commission.—
   18         (1)(a) The commission shall establish, implement, promote,
   19  and oversee the administration of a statewide telecommunications
   20  access system to provide access to telecommunications relay
   21  services by persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired,
   22  or others who communicate with them. The telecommunications
   23  access system shall provide for the purchase and distribution of
   24  specialized telecommunications devices and the establishment of
   25  statewide single provider telecommunications relay service
   26  system which operates continuously. To provide
   27  telecommunications relay services and distribute specialized
   28  telecommunication devices to persons who are hearing impaired or
   29  speech impaired, at a reasonable cost the commission shall:
   30         1.(a) Investigate, conduct public hearings, and solicit the
   31  advice and counsel of the advisory committee established
   32  pursuant to s. 427.706 to determine the most cost-effective
   33  method for providing telecommunications relay service and
   34  distributing specialized telecommunications devices.
   35         2.(b) Ensure that users of the telecommunications relay
   36  service system pay rates no greater than the rates paid for
   37  functionally equivalent voice communication services with
   38  respect to such factors as duration of the call, time of day,
   39  and distance from the point of origination to the point of
   40  termination.
   41         3.(c) Ensure that the telecommunications access system
   42  protects the privacy of persons to whom services are provided
   43  and that all operators maintain the confidentiality of all relay
   44  service messages.
   45         4.(d) Ensure that the telecommunications relay service
   46  system complies with regulations adopted by the Federal
   47  Communications Commission to implement Title IV of the Americans
   48  with Disabilities Act.
   49         (b) The commission shall provide for the establishment of a
   50  statewide telecommunication system capable of providing audible
   51  universal information access service to persons who are visually
   52  impaired or unable to communicate using print media and those
   53  who communicate with them.
   54         1. The commission may contract for the administration and
   55  operation of the system.
   56         2. One-fourth of one percent of the current monthly
   57  maintenance surcharge shall be used to fund the system.
   58         (2) The commission shall designate as the administrator of
   59  the telecommunications access system a corporation not for
   60  profit organized for such purposes and incorporated pursuant to
   61  chapter 617. For the purposes of this part, the commission may
   62  order telecommunications companies to form such a corporation
   63  not for profit.
   64         (3)(a) The commission shall select the provider of the
   65  telecommunications relay service pursuant to procedures
   66  established by the commission. In selecting the service
   67  provider, the commission shall take into consideration the cost
   68  of providing the relay service and the interests of the hearing
   69  impaired and speech impaired community in having access to a
   70  high-quality and technologically advanced telecommunications
   71  system. The commission shall award the contract to the bidder
   72  whose proposal is the most advantageous to the state, taking
   73  into consideration the following:
   74         1. The appropriateness and accessibility of the proposed
   75  telecommunications relay service for the citizens of the state,
   76  including persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired.
   77         2. The overall quality of the proposed telecommunications
   78  relay service.
   79         3. The charges for the proposed telecommunications relay
   80  service system.
   81         4. The ability and qualifications of the bidder to provide
   82  the proposed telecommunications relay service as outlined in the
   83  request for proposals.
   84         5. Any proposed service enhancements and technological
   85  enhancements which improve service without significantly
   86  increasing cost.
   87         6. Any proposed inclusion of provision of assistance to
   88  deaf persons with special needs to access the basic
   89  telecommunications system.
   90         7. The ability to meet the proposed commencement date for
   91  the telecommunications relay service.
   92         8. All other factors listed in the request for proposals.
   93         (b) The commission shall consider the advice and counsel of
   94  the advisory committee in the development of the request for
   95  proposals. The request for proposals shall include, but not be
   96  limited to:
   97         1. A description of the scope and general requirements of
   98  the telecommunications relay service, including the required
   99  compliance with regulations adopted by the Federal
  100  Communications Commission to implement Title IV of the Americans
  101  with Disabilities Act, the required service provisions and
  102  service limitations, system design, service provider
  103  qualifications, and service description, type of calls to be
  104  provided, and charges to the users.
  105         2. A description of the telecommunications relay service
  106  system standards.
  107         3. A description of information to be provided by the
  108  bidder, including service provider qualifications, cost
  109  information, including cost per call and startup costs, a
  110  description of the system design, including network access and
  111  facilities to be provided, and relay operator standards.
  112         4. A description of service provider reporting
  113  requirements.
  114         (c) The commission shall establish a request for a
  115  proposals review committee, which shall include commission staff
  116  and designated members of the advisory committee, to review the
  117  proposals received by the commission and recommend a
  118  telecommunications relay service provider to the commission for
  119  final selection. By agreeing to serve on the review committee,
  120  each member of the review committee shall agree that he or she
  121  currently does not have and will not have any interest or
  122  employment, either directly or indirectly, with potential
  123  bidders that would conflict in any manner or degree with his or
  124  her performance on the committee.
  125         (d) To the extent a bidder desires any portion of its
  126  proposal to be considered proprietary, confidential business
  127  information, the bidder shall make such request concurrent with
  128  filing its proposal and justify its request as provided in s.
  129  364.183.
  130         (4)(a) The commission shall establish a mechanism to
  131  recover the costs of implementing and maintaining the services
  132  required pursuant to this part which shall be applied to each
  133  basic telecommunications access line. In establishing the
  134  recovery mechanism, the commission shall:
  135         1. Require all local exchange telecommunications companies
  136  to impose a monthly surcharge on all local exchange
  137  telecommunications company subscribers on an individual access
  138  line basis, except that such surcharge shall not be imposed upon
  139  more than 25 basic telecommunications access lines per account
  140  bill rendered.
  141         2. Require all local exchange telecommunications companies
  142  to include the surcharge as a part of the local service charge
  143  that appears on the customer’s bill, except that the local
  144  exchange telecommunications company shall specify the surcharge
  145  on the initial bill to the subscriber and itemize it at least
  146  once annually.
  147         3. Allow the local exchange telecommunications company to
  148  deduct and retain 1 percent of the total surcharge amount
  149  collected each month to recover the billing, collecting,
  150  remitting, and administrative costs attributed to the surcharge.
  151         (b) The commission shall determine the amount of the
  152  surcharge based upon the amount of funding necessary to
  153  accomplish the purposes of this act and provide the services on
  154  an ongoing basis; however, in no case shall the amount exceed 25
  155  cents per line per month.
  156         (c) All moneys received by the local exchange
  157  telecommunications company, less the amount retained as
  158  authorized by subparagraph (4)(a)3., shall be remitted to the
  159  administrator for deposit in appropriate financial institutions
  160  regulated under state or federal law and used exclusively to
  161  fund the telecommunications access systems system provided for
  162  in this section herein.
  163         (d) The surcharge collected by the local exchange
  164  telecommunications companies is not subject to any sales, use,
  165  franchise, income, municipal utility, gross receipts, or any
  166  other tax, fee, or assessment, nor shall it be considered
  167  revenue of the local exchange telecommunications companies for
  168  any purpose.
  169         (e) From the date of implementing the surcharge, the
  170  commission shall review the amount of the surcharge at least
  171  annually and shall order changes in the amount of the surcharge
  172  as necessary to assure available funds for the provision of the
  173  telecommunications access system established herein. If Where
  174  the review of the surcharge determines that excess funds are
  175  available, the commission may order the suspension of the
  176  surcharge for a period which the commission deems appropriate.
  177         (5) The commission shall require each local exchange
  178  telecommunications company to begin assessing and collecting the
  179  surcharge in the amount of 5 cents per access line per month on
  180  bills rendered on or after July 1, 1991, for remission to the
  181  administrator for deposit in the operational fund. Each local
  182  exchange telecommunications company shall remit moneys collected
  183  to the administrator. On August 15, 1991, Each local exchange
  184  telecommunications company shall remit begin remitting the
  185  moneys collected to the administrator on a monthly basis and in
  186  a manner as prescribed by the commission. The administrator
  187  shall use such moneys to cover costs incurred during the
  188  development of the telecommunications relay services and to
  189  establish and administer the specialized telecommunications
  190  devices systems system.
  191         (6) The commission shall establish a schedule for
  192  completion of specific stages of the telecommunications relay
  193  service development and implementation except that the statewide
  194  telecommunications relay service shall commence on or before
  195  June 1, 1992.
  196         (7) The commission shall require the administrator to
  197  submit financial statements for the distribution of specialized
  198  telecommunications devices and the telecommunications relay
  199  service to the commission quarterly, in the manner prescribed by
  200  the commission.
  201         (8) The commission shall adopt rules and may take any other
  202  action necessary to implement the provisions of this act.
  203         (9) The commission shall provide to the President of the
  204  Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives an
  205  annual report on the operation of the telecommunications access
  206  system. The first report shall be provided no later than January
  207  1, 1992, and successive Reports shall be provided by January 1
  208  of each year thereafter. Reports shall be prepared in
  209  consultation with the administrator and the advisory committee.
  210  The reports shall, at a minimum, briefly outline the status of
  211  developments of the telecommunications access system, the number
  212  of persons served, the call volume, revenues and expenditures,
  213  the allocation of the revenues and expenditures between
  214  provision of specialized telecommunications devices to
  215  individuals and operation of statewide relay service, other
  216  major policy or operational issues, and proposals for
  217  improvements or changes to the telecommunications access system.
  218         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2010.

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