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The Florida Statutes

The 2004 Florida Statutes

Title XXX
SOCIAL WELFARE
Chapter 427
SPECIAL TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES
View Entire Chapter
Section 427.704, Florida Statutes 2004

427.704  Powers and duties of the commission.--

(1)  The commission shall establish, implement, promote, and oversee the administration of a statewide telecommunications access system to provide access to telecommunications relay services by persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired, or others who communicate with them. The telecommunications access system shall provide for the purchase and distribution of specialized telecommunications devices and the establishment of statewide single provider telecommunications relay service system which operates continuously. To provide telecommunications relay services and distribute specialized telecommunication devices to persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired, at a reasonable cost the commission shall:

(a)  Investigate, conduct public hearings, and solicit the advice and counsel of the advisory committee established pursuant to s. 427.706 to determine the most cost-effective method for providing telecommunications relay service and distributing specialized telecommunications devices.

(b)  Ensure that users of the telecommunications relay service system pay rates no greater than the rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services with respect to such factors as duration of the call, time of day, and distance from the point of origination to the point of termination.

(c)  Ensure that the telecommunications access system protects the privacy of persons to whom services are provided and that all operators maintain the confidentiality of all relay service messages.

(d)  Ensure that the telecommunications relay service system complies with regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to implement Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(2)  The commission shall designate as the administrator of the telecommunications access system a corporation not for profit organized for such purposes and incorporated pursuant to chapter 617. For the purposes of this part, the commission may order telecommunications companies to form such a corporation not for profit.

(3)(a)  The commission shall select the provider of the telecommunications relay service pursuant to procedures established by the commission. In selecting the service provider, the commission shall take into consideration the cost of providing the relay service and the interests of the hearing impaired and speech impaired community in having access to a high-quality and technologically advanced telecommunications system. The commission shall award the contract to the bidder whose proposal is the most advantageous to the state, taking into consideration the following:

1.  The appropriateness and accessibility of the proposed telecommunications relay service for the citizens of the state, including persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired.

2.  The overall quality of the proposed telecommunications relay service.

3.  The charges for the proposed telecommunications relay service system.

4.  The ability and qualifications of the bidder to provide the proposed telecommunications relay service as outlined in the request for proposals.

5.  Any proposed service enhancements and technological enhancements which improve service without significantly increasing cost.

6.  Any proposed inclusion of provision of assistance to deaf persons with special needs to access the basic telecommunications system.

7.  The ability to meet the proposed commencement date for the telecommunications relay service.

8.  All other factors listed in the request for proposals.

(b)  The commission shall consider the advice and counsel of the advisory committee in the development of the request for proposals. The request for proposals shall include, but not be limited to:

1.  A description of the scope and general requirements of the telecommunications relay service, including the required compliance with regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to implement Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the required service provisions and service limitations, system design, service provider qualifications, and service description, type of calls to be provided, and charges to the users.

2.  A description of the telecommunications relay service system standards.

3.  A description of information to be provided by the bidder, including service provider qualifications, cost information, including cost per call and startup costs, a description of the system design, including network access and facilities to be provided, and relay operator standards.

4.  A description of service provider reporting requirements.

(c)  The commission shall establish a request for a proposals review committee, which shall include commission staff and designated members of the advisory committee, to review the proposals received by the commission and recommend a telecommunications relay service provider to the commission for final selection. By agreeing to serve on the review committee, each member of the review committee shall agree that he or she currently does not have and will not have any interest or employment, either directly or indirectly, with potential bidders that would conflict in any manner or degree with his or her performance on the committee.

(d)  To the extent a bidder desires any portion of its proposal to be considered proprietary, confidential business information, the bidder shall make such request concurrent with filing its proposal and justify its request as provided in s. 364.183.

(4)(a)  The commission shall establish a mechanism to recover the costs of implementing and maintaining the services required pursuant to this part which shall be applied to each basic telecommunications access line. In establishing the recovery mechanism, the commission shall:

1.  Require all local exchange telecommunications companies to impose a monthly surcharge on all local exchange telecommunications company subscribers on an individual access line basis, except that such surcharge shall not be imposed upon more than 25 basic telecommunications access lines per account bill rendered.

2.  Require all local exchange telecommunications companies to include the surcharge as a part of the local service charge that appears on the customer's bill, except that the local exchange telecommunications company shall specify the surcharge on the initial bill to the subscriber and itemize it at least once annually.

3.  Allow the local exchange telecommunications company to deduct and retain 1 percent of the total surcharge amount collected each month to recover the billing, collecting, remitting, and administrative costs attributed to the surcharge.

(b)  The commission shall determine the amount of the surcharge based upon the amount of funding necessary to accomplish the purposes of this act and provide the services on an ongoing basis; however, in no case shall the amount exceed 25 cents per line per month.

(c)  All moneys received by the local exchange telecommunications company, less the amount retained as authorized by subparagraph (4)(a)3., shall be remitted to the administrator for deposit in appropriate financial institutions regulated under state or federal law and used exclusively to fund the telecommunications access system provided for herein.

(d)  The surcharge collected by the local exchange telecommunications companies is not subject to any sales, use, franchise, income, municipal utility, gross receipts, or any other tax, fee, or assessment, nor shall it be considered revenue of the local exchange telecommunications companies for any purpose.

(e)  From the date of implementing the surcharge, the commission shall review the amount of the surcharge at least annually and shall order changes in the amount of the surcharge as necessary to assure available funds for the provision of the telecommunications access system established herein. Where the review of the surcharge determines that excess funds are available, the commission may order the suspension of the surcharge for a period which the commission deems appropriate.

(5)  The commission shall require each local exchange telecommunications company to begin assessing and collecting the surcharge in the amount of 5 cents per access line per month on bills rendered on or after July 1, 1991, for remission to the administrator for deposit in the operational fund. Each local exchange telecommunications company shall remit moneys collected to the administrator. On August 15, 1991, each local exchange telecommunications company shall begin remitting the moneys collected to the administrator on a monthly basis and in a manner as prescribed by the commission. The administrator shall use such moneys to cover costs incurred during the development of the telecommunications relay services and to establish and administer the specialized telecommunications devices system.

(6)  The commission shall establish a schedule for completion of specific stages of the telecommunications relay service development and implementation except that the statewide telecommunications relay service shall commence on or before June 1, 1992.

(7)  The commission shall require the administrator to submit financial statements for the distribution of specialized telecommunications devices and the telecommunications relay service to the commission quarterly, in the manner prescribed by the commission.

(8)  The commission shall adopt rules and may take any other action necessary to implement the provisions of this act.

(9)  The commission shall provide to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives an annual report on the operation of the telecommunications access system. The first report shall be provided no later than January 1, 1992, and successive reports shall be provided by January 1 of each year thereafter. Reports shall be prepared in consultation with the administrator and the advisory committee. The reports shall, at a minimum, briefly outline the status of developments of the telecommunications access system, the number of persons served, the call volume, revenues and expenditures, the allocation of the revenues and expenditures between provision of specialized telecommunications devices to individuals and operation of statewide relay service, other major policy or operational issues, and proposals for improvements or changes to the telecommunications access system.

History.--s. 1, ch. 91-111; s. 11, ch. 2000-334.

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