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  S.B. No. 1710
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to the universal service fund.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 56.023, Utilities Code, is amended by
  amending Subsections (f), (g), (h), (i), and (k) and adding
  Subsections (q), (t), and (u) to read as follows:
         (f)  Except as provided by Subsection (g), for an incumbent
  local exchange company or cooperative that served greater than
  31,000 access lines in this state on September 1, 2022 [2013], or a
  company or cooperative that is a successor to such a company or
  cooperative, the support that the company or cooperative is
  eligible to receive on December 31, 2023 [2016], under a plan
  established under Section 56.021(1)(A) is reduced:
               (1)  on January 1, 2024 [2017], to 75 percent of the
  level of support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2023 [2016];
               (2)  on January 1, 2025 [2018], to 50 percent of the
  level of support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2023 [2016]; [and]
               (3)  on January 1, 2026 [2019], to 25 percent of the
  level of support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2023; and
               (4)  on January 1, 2027, to zero percent of the level of
  support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive on
  December 31, 2023 [2016].
         (g)  After the commission has adopted rules under Subsection
  (j), an incumbent local exchange company or cooperative that is
  subject to Subsection (f) may petition the commission to initiate a
  contested case proceeding as necessary to determine the eligibility
  of the company or cooperative to receive support under a plan
  established under Section 56.021(1)(A). A company or cooperative
  may not file more than one petition under this subsection. On
  receipt of a petition under this subsection, the commission shall
  initiate a contested case proceeding to determine the eligibility
  of the company or cooperative to receive continued support under a
  plan established under Section 56.021(1)(A) for service in the
  exchanges that are the subject of the petition. To be eligible to
  receive support for service in an exchange under this subsection,
  the company or cooperative must demonstrate that it has a financial
  need for continued support. The commission must issue a final order
  on the proceeding not later than the 330th day after the date the
  petition is filed with the commission. Until the commission issues
  a final order on the proceeding, the company or cooperative is
  entitled to receive the total amount of support the company or
  cooperative was eligible to receive on the date the company or
  cooperative filed the petition. A company or cooperative that
  files a petition under this subsection is not subject to Subsection
  (f) after the commission issues a final order on the proceeding. If
  the commission determines that a company or cooperative has
  demonstrated financial need for continued support under this
  subsection, it shall set the amount of support in the same
  proceeding. The amount of support set by the commission for an
  exchange under this subsection may not exceed:
               (1)  100 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative will be eligible to receive on December 31,
  2023 [2016], if the petition is filed before January 1, 2024 [2016];
               (2)  75 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative will be eligible to receive on December 31,
  2023 [2016], if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2024
  [2016], and before January 1, 2025 [2017];
               (3)  50 percent of the amount of support the company or
  cooperative is eligible to receive on December 31, 2023 [2016], if
  the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2025 [2017], and before
  January 1, 2026 [2018]; [or]
               (4)  25 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative is eligible to receive on December 31, 2023 
  [2016], if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2026 [2018],
  and before January 1, 2027; or
               (5)  zero percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative is eligible to receive on December 31, 2023,
  if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2027, and before
  January 1, 2028 [2019].
         (h)  Except as provided by Subsection (i), for an incumbent
  local exchange company that is an electing company under Chapter 58
  or 59 or a cooperative that served greater than 31,000 access lines
  in this state on September 1, 2022 [2013], or a company or
  cooperative that is a successor to such a company or cooperative,
  the support that the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2024 [2017], under a plan established under Section
  56.021(1)(B) is reduced:
               (1)  on January 1, 2025 [2018], to 75 percent of the
  level of support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2024 [2017];
               (2)  on January 1, 2026 [2019], to 50 percent of the
  level of support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2024 [2017]; [and]
               (3)  on January 1, 2027 [2020], to 25 percent of the
  level of support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive
  on December 31, 2024; and
               (4)  on January 1, 2028, to zero percent of the level of
  support the company or cooperative is eligible to receive on
  December 31, 2024 [2017].
         (i)  After the commission has adopted rules under Subsection
  (j), an incumbent local exchange company or cooperative that is
  subject to Subsection (h) may petition the commission to initiate a
  contested case proceeding as necessary to determine the eligibility
  of the company or cooperative to receive support under a plan
  established under Section 56.021(1)(B). A company or cooperative
  may not file more than one petition under this subsection. On
  receipt of a petition under this subsection, the commission shall
  initiate a contested case proceeding to determine the eligibility
  of the company or cooperative to receive continued support under a
  plan established under Section 56.021(1)(B) for service in the
  exchanges that are the subject of the petition. To be eligible to
  receive support for service in an exchange under this subsection,
  the company or cooperative must demonstrate that it has a financial
  need for continued support. The commission must issue a final order
  on the proceeding no later than the 330th day after the date the
  petition is filed with the commission. Until the commission issues
  a final order on the proceeding, the company or cooperative shall
  continue to receive the total amount of support it was eligible to
  receive on the date the company or cooperative filed a petition
  under this subsection. A company or cooperative that files a
  petition under this subsection is not subject to Subsection (h)
  after the commission issues a final order on the proceeding. If the
  commission determines that a company or cooperative has
  demonstrated financial need for continued support under this
  subsection, it shall set the amount of support in the same
  proceeding. The amount of support set by the commission for an
  exchange under this subsection may not exceed:
               (1)  100 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative will be eligible to receive on December 31,
  2024 [2017], if the petition is filed before January 1, 2025 [2017];
               (2)  75 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative will be eligible to receive on December 31,
  2024 [2017], if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2025 
  [2017], and before January 1, 2026 [2018];
               (3)  50 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative is eligible to receive on December 31, 2024 
  [2017], if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2026 [2018],
  and before January 1, 2027 [2019]; [or]
               (4)  25 percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative is eligible to receive on December 31, 2024 
  [2017], if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2027 [2019],
  and before January 1, 2028; or
               (5)  zero percent of the amount of support that the
  company or cooperative is eligible to receive on December 31, 2024,
  if the petition is filed on or after January 1, 2028, and before
  January 1, 2029 [2020].
         (k)  Subsections (g) and (i) do not authorize the commission
  to initiate a contested case hearing concerning a local exchange
  company that has elected to participate in a total support
  reduction plan under 16 T.A.C. Section 26.403 that requires the
  company to forego funding under a plan established under Section
  56.021(1) after January 1, 2024 [2017]. This section does not
  affect any obligation of a local exchange company subject to such a
  total support reduction plan.
         (q)  Notwithstanding the period for continued support
  specified by Subsection (p), if the eligible telecommunications
  provider receiving continued support under that subsection is a
  cooperative or an affiliate of a cooperative, the
  telecommunications provider is entitled to continued support
  through December 31, 2023, at the same monthly per line support
  amount as the provider is receiving as of the date the support
  ceases for that exchange for the incumbent local exchange company
  or cooperative. Support authorized under this subsection ceases
  December 31, 2023.
         (t)  Not later than September 1 of every fourth year
  beginning September 1, 2023, the commission shall review and may
  adjust the standards and criteria to demonstrate financial need for
  continued support under Subsection (f).
         (u)  Not later than September 1 of every fourth year
  beginning September 1, 2024, the commission shall review and may
  adjust the standards and criteria to demonstrate financial need for
  continued support under Subsection (h).
         SECTION 2.  Subchapter B, Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is
  amended by adding Sections 56.0231 and 56.0232 to read as follows:
         Sec. 56.0231.  SUPPORT EXPIRED. Support to an incumbent
  local exchange company or cooperative provided under Section 56.023
  must be reduced on December 31, 2024, to zero percent of the amount
  of support that the company or cooperative is eligible to receive on
  that date if before December 31, 2022, support to the company or
  cooperative had been reduced to 25 percent of the support the
  company or cooperative was eligible to receive.
         Sec. 56.0232.  SUPPORT RELINQUISHED.  (a)  An eligible
  telecommunications provider may notify the commission that the
  provider relinquishes the support it is entitled to receive under
  this chapter.  After notice by the provider, the commission shall
  require the entity administering the universal service fund to
  terminate support to the provider.
         (b)  If the commission does not notify the administrator
  under Subsection (a) of the provider's request before the 90th day
  after the date the commission receives the request, the provider is
  entitled to stop receiving the support on that date.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2023.
 
 
 
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1710 passed the Senate on
  April 19, 2023, by the following vote:  Yeas 30, Nays 1.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate    
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1710 passed the House on
  May 19, 2023, by the following vote:  Yeas 137, Nays 6, two
  present not voting.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
 
 
  Approved:
 
  ______________________________ 
              Date
 
 
  ______________________________ 
            Governor