On February 6, 2012 the FCC released an order relating to low income programs. While changes don’t go into effect until 30 days after they are published in the National Registry, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is reminding service providers that certain changes to the USF Lifeline and Link Up programs, as well as toll limitation service (TLS) support, will go into effect April 1. Visit the USAC website to see a summary of these changes.
In addition to the informative breakout sessions packed into this year's convention, the event offers two opportunities to hear from national experts with the most up-to-date information on our industry. The Monday "Issues Luncheon” will feature former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan. Senator Dorgan has been working hard in DC with the Rural Coalition advocating on behalf of rural telcos. With more than 30 years of service in Congress, Senator Dorgan has a unique perspective that has been a strong voice for rural America.
Tuesday’s Keynote luncheon will feature NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield. Her talk, "Rural Telecom: Creating the Future,” will be an interactive opportunity for MTA members to learn about not only the Rural Coalition's efforts at the FCC and Congress, but also about the conversations with OPASTCO on "Unification” opportunities.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for the luncheons. Tickets are only $40 each and members can register on the MTA website. For more information, please contact either Jacquie Jaskowiak at email@example.com, 651-288-3724 or Brent Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-288-3723.
REGISTER NOW! After March 2, 2012, rates increased by $25.
A limited amount of exhibit booths are still available. Sign up to Exhibit or Sponsor
As part of the MTA’s efforts to continuously monitor how the FCC’s Order on USF/ICC will affect our members, the Regulatory Reporting Subcommittee of the RTS Committee is tracking information relating to new reporting requirements and timelines associate with the Order which will be distributed through NewsBytes and direct email when necessary. NECA recently sent the a memo out to their members with web links to a timeline and new reporting requirements. View the memo. A NECA username and password is required to access the information.
The much anticipated Minnesota re-districting map was released this past Tuesday. The three judge panel that put the map together stated their goal was to make as few changes as possible. For the most part that is true. The lines shifted a bit in each House, Senate, and Congressional Districts, but they did renumber the whole state. Here is a link to Minnesota Public Radio’s interactive map that will allow you to see what new district you are in. The new districts will have an impact on the relationships MTA members have with potentially new State Senators and Representatives. There are two greater Minnesota Senate districts with potential incumbent challengers and seven House districts. One House district in outstate Minnesota does not have an incumbent. Here is a break down by new district numbers:
Outstate Senate Districts
17 Senator Gary Kubly (DFL) vs Senator Joe Gimse (R )
23 Senator Julie Rosen (R ) vs Senator Al De Kruif (R )
Senator Kubly has stated that he will not run due to his advanced ALS, so Senator Gimse will be the only incumbent in that district. Both Senator Rosen and Senator De Kruif have indicated they are interested in running. Most of new district is Senator Rosen’s current district.
Outstate House Districts
5A Larry Howes (R ) vs John Persell (DFL)
5B Tom Anzelc (DFL) vs Carolyn McElfatrick (R )
8B Mary Franson (R ) vs Mark Murdock (R )
9A Morrie Lanning (R ) vs Paul Marquart (DFL)
11B Roger Crawford (R ) vs Bill Hilty (DFL)
16B NO INCUMBANT
17A Andrew Falk (DFL) vs Lyle Koenen (DFL)
23B Tony Cornish (R ) vs Paul Torkelson (R )
Persell, McElfatrick, Crawford, Koenen, and Cornish have slight advantages because their new districts more closely resemble their old districts.
This past Tuesday Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), Chairman of the House Commerce Committee held "Telecom Day” hearing in his Committee. The hearing led off with a presentation by Jim Campbell (CenturyLink) on the FCC’s USF/ICC Order. Chairman Hoppe then re-introduced HF 1692, the AT&T Dereg bill from last session. He introduced an A2 Amendment basically eliminating any provisions dealing with access reduction. He stated his desire was to lay the bill over for a few weeks and allow interested parties to work together to find common ground on a telecom bill that the Committee could pass.
Several interested parties spoke about the bill and overall concept of deregulating telephone companies. Dan Lipschultz, representing metro CLECs, talked about the chaos the Order represents and the need for equal regulatory protection and certainty. Asst. Commissioner of Commerce, Dennis Ahlers, spoke about how it is too early to talk about changing state telecom regulation and that his department would be more than willing to work with parties on the topic next session after lawsuits and request for reconsideration brought about by the Order are settled. The last speaker was MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen who talked about how different voice services are regulated differently and the need for them to be regulated the same. Christensen went on to say that while there are several lawsuits and requests for reconsideration being considered by the Courts and FCC, they are dealing with details of the Order and not the substance. He went on to inform the Committee that the MTA is working on a bill to align State and Federal regulation.
This past week the Senate introduced SF 2080, a bill to streamline Telecommunications regulations, duties transfer to the public utilities commission (PUC), and appropriations. The Chief Author in the Senate is Energy, Utilities, and Telecom Committee Chair Julie Rosen. Senators Sparks, Howe, Metzen, and Senjem are co-authors. The House companion bill is HF 2475, which is being Chief Authored by House Commerce Committee Chair Joe Hoppe. Because of filing deadlines, co-authors in the House will be sought next week. This bill will be the main focus of MTA’s Day on the Hill next week, where members will get up to the date information and specific details of the bill and how it will greatly improve state regulations for telcos and streamline the process for consumers.
In the MTA’s continuing efforts to work with other stakeholders on this issue, staff has reached out to other interested parties for input. "It is our goal to pass a bill that make as much sense for as many people as possible,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen.
The MTA staff is busy putting the final touches on the 2012 Day on the Hill. The event will kick off at 2:00 p.m. next Tuesday, February 28, at the Embassy Suites downtown St. Paul. Attendees will be briefed on MTA priorities and the most recent legislative developments. New this year will be a segment on how to lobby. For those new to legislative visits, this will be a great opportunity to take the fear out of State Government. For those who have been doing this for years, it is a great refresher. Wednesday is devoted to legislative visits. Issues change from year to year, but one thing about Day on the Hill hasn’t….the ice cream sundae breaks! There is still time if you haven’t registered, 2012 DOTH is on track to being our biggest event ever, but we always have room for more. Go to www.mnta.org to register.
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Each day that you drive as part of your job, or on your commute to and from work, you realize that over 99% of your driving is going in a forward direction. Yet isn’t it interesting that although backing is a very small portion of our driving, it accounts for about 30% of all accidents.
The good news is backing accidents are almost always preventable. Following are some techniques to keep us from having to contact our insurance agent.
- First off, don't back up unless absolutely necessary. Proper planning of routes and proper positioning of the vehicle can reduce the amount of backing.
- A simple way to avoid backing is to park so that your first movement is always forward. When you stop to park, think ahead to when you will be leaving and park so that you do not have to back out. Whenever possible, find a parking spot that allows you to drive through. This may require parking a bit further away, however this strategy will reduce your chances of being involved in a backing incident. If you are unable to find a drive through spot, back into a parking space so that your first movement will be forward and you will not be reversing into traffic.
- When possible, use helpers to assist you in backing.
- When no helper is available, get out and walk around the entire vehicle. This "circle of safety" will allow you to identify any obstructions in the area that may not be clearly visible from the driver’s seat. Many fatal backing accidents occur in locations where the driver is familiar with the surroundings and may become complacent. A prime example of this is the driveway at home. Each year, hundreds of children are injured or killed by parents or close relatives while backing in their own driveway.
- Use all available aids to keep you aware of your surroundings. These include the mirrors on both sides of the vehicle, rearview mirrors and reflections of your vehicle in windows of buildings.
- Maintain control of your vehicle by backing slowly. This allows for timely course corrections and braking should something or someone move into your line of travel.
- It is vitally important that you are focused on the task of backing your vehicle, avoid distractions that can divert your attention.
- Many accidents occur because backing up is such a small percentage of driving time, taking time to practice backing, will build confidence and ability. Find an empty parking lot and start slowly then adding cones or empty boxes to back around.
We can improve our skill of backing and improve our chances of avoiding backing accidents by planning ahead while we drive. The key is to avoid backing in the first place and only backup as a last resort.
Dan Berg, M.S.
Lead Safety Consultant
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Over the past decade, Communication Network Engineers, Communication Consultants, and you have done something together. Maybe it was projects, purchases, hitting some break-out sessions at a conference, or simply hanging out after work. Whatever it was, you wouldn’t be hearing from them today if they hadn’t enjoyed partnering with you.
On April 1, Communication Network Engineers and Communication Consultants forge the new telecomm engineering firm, Communication Network Engineering (CNE). Each of them; Blake Griffin, Glenn Otteson, Steve Lewis, and Brad Feir; has a unique role in this new partnership, but they all collaborate as an effective and creative team. They’ve been serving the telecomm industry for years, but now they’re doing it together under the same banner.
They’ll have the same offices and you’ll work with the telecomm consultants who’ve partnered with you before. But they’ll have a new name, more diverse services, and be even more resourceful to you and the telecomm industry at-large. Their commitment to their clients will not falter and their services will improve. Working with the new CNE ensures you and your company enjoy those rewards.
This new CNE takes off soon and they’re excited for you to join them. Contact them to find out more about what’s in store.
Benton Cooperative Telephone Company, Rice, MN has an opening for the Marketing/Customer Relations Coordinator position. This person is responsible for preparing and implementing advertising and promotional programs for products, coordinating special events, researching products, assisting with customer service, and preparing and providing various reports. Excellent opportunity for an experienced person with marketing and customer service experience. This position is for 24 hours per week and includes benefits. Outstanding company in central Minnesota offering the latest in telecommunications services. Submit resume by Friday, March 16, 2012 to Cheryl Scapanski at email@example.com.
Do you have an announcement for People & Companies? Send an e-mail to MTA at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 651-290-2266.
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