A Senate panel on Monday advanced a measure that’s caused a stir around Capitol quarters.
Republicans are crying foul over an e-mail reportedly written by a Communications Workers of America representative, expressing her displeasure with the way Democrats voted on House Bill 2367.
The measure would, in part, give companies like Verizon greater flexibility in deciding whether to offer landline service or wireless service to future customers if wireless is available. Customers could have to petition the SCC if displeased with the service decision.
Existing hardline services could not be removed under the measure.
The effort has passed in the House and Senate, and on Monday, a Senate committee approved the House version.
The CWA opposes the measure, however, and in an e-mail sent earlier this month to Democratic lawmakers, a representative says “My union sisters and brothers have also worked tirelessly to elect Democrats, often making the difference in tight races. We conduct ‘Labor Walks’ going door to door on Saturdays, make thousands of phone calls and send tens of thousands of mail pieces to ensure like thinking Democrats will be elected.
“In return we expect full consideration for our issues. We do not expect those we have elected to turn their backs on our issues.”
The e-mail reminds that this is an election year for the House and Senate members.
“CWA’s active participation in this fall’s election is being threatened by Democrats who are abandoning their base to align themselves with big business at the expense of consumers. It will be difficult to convince my members to give up their Saturdays and evenings to elect the very people who ignore our needs after the election is over. It will be nearly impossible for me to convince my boss to authorize the thousands of dollars we normally contribute to the party and individual candidates.
“My members are angry about this committee vote but it is not too late to convince my members that Democrats care. We may not win the House vote but the Democrats can send a message to my members by voting ’no’ when the bill comes to the floor.”
The e-mail triggered a sharp response from Americans for Prosperity state director Ben Marchi, who is now seeking through the Freedom of Information Act any records and e-mails related to the group from legislators mentioned in the CWA e-mail.
“… We’re disgusted to see this brand of politics practiced here in the Old Dominion,” Marchi said in a statement.
During Monday’s Senate Commerce and Labor Committee meeting, the CWA’s state council President Richard T. Hatch, said he did not have a position on the e-mail when asked about it by Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City.
He did strongly oppose the bill, however, saying it could lead to job losses, a degredation of the hard phone line infrastructure and an overall push of customers to a wireless network that offers lower broadband speeds and less reliability.
Representatives of the Sierra Club and AARP as well as a consumer advocate spoke against the bill.
It passed the committee 11-4.