Originally designed to expand Internet service in rural parts of the state, the final bill would have charged subscribers about $4 a year, with most of the money going to help subsidize rural phone service.
(TNS) — A bill to establish a new fee on cell phones in Oregon died Sunday at the finish line without a vote by the state Senate. The Republican Senate walkout in Oregon left Democrats without time to push the bill forward before the legislative session wrapped up.
Originally designated to expand Internet service in rural parts of the state, the legislation changed over the course of the session. The final bill would have charged subscribers about $4 a year, with most of the money going to reduce by about $6 a year the fee that landline phone subscribers pay to subsidize rural phone service.
A companion bill to establish that office passed the Senate on Sunday on 27-1 vote. But without the cell phone fee the new office will have “minimal” funding, according to Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, who led the push for the new fee.
Oregon has the lowest cell phone taxes in the nation, according to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation. But Republicans were in no mood to make concessions on taxes after a session when the Democratic supermajority passed a multibillion-dollar business tax hike, established a new paid family leave law (funded in part by employers), sent a measure to voters to establish a new tobacco tax hike, and unsuccessfully pushed for a new carbon tax.
After Senate Republicans returned Saturday from their nine-day walkout to block the climate bill, they waived procedural rules to allow many bills to move forward before the constitutionally mandated end of the legislative session Sunday.
Republicans took a stand, though, on two bills – the cell phone fee and another bill that would have imposed fees to fund electronic court records.
On Monday, Marsh said she’s not sure she’ll make another run at a cell phone fee when lawmakers return to Salem next winter for their off-year short session. She said it may depend on whether rural Republicans express an openness to raising fees for rural broadband.
©2019 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.