November 28, 2020
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HB 879

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to access to telecommunications service;
3amending s. 427.704, F.S.; directing the Public Service
4Commission to establish a statewide telecommunication
5system capable of providing audible universal information
6access service to persons who are visually impaired or
7unable to communicate using a print medium; authorizing
8the commission to contract for the administration and
9operation of the system; providing for funding of the
10system; providing an effective date.
12Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
14     Section 1.  Section 427.704, Florida Statutes, is amended
15to read:
16     427.704  Powers and duties of the commission.-
17     (1)(a)  The commission shall establish, implement, promote,
18and oversee the administration of a statewide telecommunications
19access system to provide access to telecommunications relay
20services by persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired,
21or others who communicate with them. The telecommunications
22access system shall provide for the purchase and distribution of
23specialized telecommunications devices and the establishment of
24statewide single provider telecommunications relay service
25system which operates continuously. To provide
26telecommunications relay services and distribute specialized
27telecommunication devices to persons who are hearing impaired or
28speech impaired, at a reasonable cost the commission shall:
29     1.(a)  Investigate, conduct public hearings, and solicit
30the advice and counsel of the advisory committee established
31pursuant to s. 427.706 to determine the most cost-effective
32method for providing telecommunications relay service and
33distributing specialized telecommunications devices.
34     2.(b)  Ensure that users of the telecommunications relay
35service system pay rates no greater than the rates paid for
36functionally equivalent voice communication services with
37respect to such factors as duration of the call, time of day,
38and distance from the point of origination to the point of
40     3.(c)  Ensure that the telecommunications access system
41protects the privacy of persons to whom services are provided
42and that all operators maintain the confidentiality of all relay
43service messages.
44     4.(d)  Ensure that the telecommunications relay service
45system complies with regulations adopted by the Federal
46Communications Commission to implement Title IV of the Americans
47with Disabilities Act.
48     (b)  The commission shall provide for the establishment of
49a statewide telecommunication system capable of providing
50audible universal information access service to persons who are
51visually impaired or unable to communicate using print media and
52those who communicate with them.
53     1.  The commission may contract for the administration and
54operation of the system.
55     2.  One-fourth of one percent of the current monthly
56maintenance surcharge shall be used to fund the system.
57     (2)  The commission shall designate as the administrator of
58the telecommunications access system a corporation not for
59profit organized for such purposes and incorporated pursuant to
60chapter 617. For the purposes of this part, the commission may
61order telecommunications companies to form such a corporation
62not for profit.
63     (3)(a)  The commission shall select the provider of the
64telecommunications relay service pursuant to procedures
65established by the commission. In selecting the service
66provider, the commission shall take into consideration the cost
67of providing the relay service and the interests of the hearing
68impaired and speech impaired community in having access to a
69high-quality and technologically advanced telecommunications
70system. The commission shall award the contract to the bidder
71whose proposal is the most advantageous to the state, taking
72into consideration the following:
73     1.  The appropriateness and accessibility of the proposed
74telecommunications relay service for the citizens of the state,
75including persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired.
76     2.  The overall quality of the proposed telecommunications
77relay service.
78     3.  The charges for the proposed telecommunications relay
79service system.
80     4.  The ability and qualifications of the bidder to provide
81the proposed telecommunications relay service as outlined in the
82request for proposals.
83     5.  Any proposed service enhancements and technological
84enhancements which improve service without significantly
85increasing cost.
86     6.  Any proposed inclusion of provision of assistance to
87deaf persons with special needs to access the basic
88telecommunications system.
89     7.  The ability to meet the proposed commencement date for
90the telecommunications relay service.
91     8.  All other factors listed in the request for proposals.
92     (b)  The commission shall consider the advice and counsel
93of the advisory committee in the development of the request for
94proposals. The request for proposals shall include, but not be
95limited to:
96     1.  A description of the scope and general requirements of
97the telecommunications relay service, including the required
98compliance with regulations adopted by the Federal
99Communications Commission to implement Title IV of the Americans
100with Disabilities Act, the required service provisions and
101service limitations, system design, service provider
102qualifications, and service description, type of calls to be
103provided, and charges to the users.
104     2.  A description of the telecommunications relay service
105system standards.
106     3.  A description of information to be provided by the
107bidder, including service provider qualifications, cost
108information, including cost per call and startup costs, a
109description of the system design, including network access and
110facilities to be provided, and relay operator standards.
111     4.  A description of service provider reporting
113     (c)  The commission shall establish a request for a
114proposals review committee, which shall include commission staff
115and designated members of the advisory committee, to review the
116proposals received by the commission and recommend a
117telecommunications relay service provider to the commission for
118final selection. By agreeing to serve on the review committee,
119each member of the review committee shall agree that he or she
120currently does not have and will not have any interest or
121employment, either directly or indirectly, with potential
122bidders that would conflict in any manner or degree with his or
123her performance on the committee.
124     (d)  To the extent a bidder desires any portion of its
125proposal to be considered proprietary, confidential business
126information, the bidder shall make such request concurrent with
127filing its proposal and justify its request as provided in s.
129     (4)(a)  The commission shall establish a mechanism to
130recover the costs of implementing and maintaining the services
131required pursuant to this part which shall be applied to each
132basic telecommunications access line. In establishing the
133recovery mechanism, the commission shall:
134     1.  Require all local exchange telecommunications companies
135to impose a monthly surcharge on all local exchange
136telecommunications company subscribers on an individual access
137line basis, except that such surcharge shall not be imposed upon
138more than 25 basic telecommunications access lines per account
139bill rendered.
140     2.  Require all local exchange telecommunications companies
141to include the surcharge as a part of the local service charge
142that appears on the customer's bill, except that the local
143exchange telecommunications company shall specify the surcharge
144on the initial bill to the subscriber and itemize it at least
145once annually.
146     3.  Allow the local exchange telecommunications company to
147deduct and retain 1 percent of the total surcharge amount
148collected each month to recover the billing, collecting,
149remitting, and administrative costs attributed to the surcharge.
150     (b)  The commission shall determine the amount of the
151surcharge based upon the amount of funding necessary to
152accomplish the purposes of this act and provide the services on
153an ongoing basis; however, in no case shall the amount exceed 25
154cents per line per month.
155     (c)  All moneys received by the local exchange
156telecommunications company, less the amount retained as
157authorized by subparagraph (4)(a)3., shall be remitted to the
158administrator for deposit in appropriate financial institutions
159regulated under state or federal law and used exclusively to
160fund the telecommunications access systems system provided for
161in this section herein.
162     (d)  The surcharge collected by the local exchange
163telecommunications companies is not subject to any sales, use,
164franchise, income, municipal utility, gross receipts, or any
165other tax, fee, or assessment, nor shall it be considered
166revenue of the local exchange telecommunications companies for
167any purpose.
168     (e)  From the date of implementing the surcharge, the
169commission shall review the amount of the surcharge at least
170annually and shall order changes in the amount of the surcharge
171as necessary to assure available funds for the provision of the
172telecommunications access system established herein. If Where
173the review of the surcharge determines that excess funds are
174available, the commission may order the suspension of the
175surcharge for a period which the commission deems appropriate.
176     (5)  The commission shall require each local exchange
177telecommunications company to begin assessing and collecting the
178surcharge in the amount of 5 cents per access line per month on
179bills rendered on or after July 1, 1991, for remission to the
180administrator for deposit in the operational fund. Each local
181exchange telecommunications company shall remit moneys collected
182to the administrator. On August 15, 1991, Each local exchange
183telecommunications company shall remit begin remitting the
184moneys collected to the administrator on a monthly basis and in
185a manner as prescribed by the commission. The administrator
186shall use such moneys to cover costs incurred during the
187development of the telecommunications relay services and to
188establish and administer the specialized telecommunications
189devices systems system.
190     (6)  The commission shall establish a schedule for
191completion of specific stages of the telecommunications relay
192service development and implementation except that the statewide
193telecommunications relay service shall commence on or before
194June 1, 1992.
195     (7)  The commission shall require the administrator to
196submit financial statements for the distribution of specialized
197telecommunications devices and the telecommunications relay
198service to the commission quarterly, in the manner prescribed by
199the commission.
200     (8)  The commission shall adopt rules and may take any
201other action necessary to implement the provisions of this act.
202     (9)  The commission shall provide to the President of the
203Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives an
204annual report on the operation of the telecommunications access
205system. The first report shall be provided no later than January
2061, 1992, and successive Reports shall be provided by January 1
207of each year thereafter. Reports shall be prepared in
208consultation with the administrator and the advisory committee.
209The reports shall, at a minimum, briefly outline the status of
210developments of the telecommunications access system, the number
211of persons served, the call volume, revenues and expenditures,
212the allocation of the revenues and expenditures between
213provision of specialized telecommunications devices to
214individuals and operation of statewide relay service, other
215major policy or operational issues, and proposals for
216improvements or changes to the telecommunications access system.
217     Section 2.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2010.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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