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Peer Group Investment Opportunities Open for 2016. View Details
On May 24, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued an order reducing the Telecommunications Access Minnesota (TAM) surcharge from $0.07 to $0.05 per telephone customer per month. The Order also accepts the Department of Commerce’s 2017 budget as reasonable, which facilitated the change in the surcharge. The new surcharge change is effective on, or billing cycle after, August 1, 2016.
MTA’s Railroad Crossing Bill on to the Governor's Desk for Signature
On the last day of the 2016 Legislative session, a second key piece of legislation the MTA has been working on for the past few years passed out of both the House and Senate. HF 963 sets fair and reasonable railroad crossing fees and puts practices in place that utilities can count on as they deploy broadband and electricity throughout rural Minnesota. This bill was heard in five committees in the House and Senate, and in the end passed 65-0 in the Senate and 126-1 in the House. “The final votes tell the real story”, commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen, “This was a bi-partisan bill where legislators agreed the railroads were holding utilities hostage in their fees and processes. I can’t thank MTA members and our friends at MREA, MMUA, and Cooperative Network for all of the phone calls and e-mails to their legislators. We could never have passed this bill without this level of grass roots advocacy."
A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Dayton signed into law HF 1066. This is the MTA’s Market Regulation bill that the MTA’s Legislative Committee has been working on for more than 4 years. Among other things, the bill sets up a process for ILECs to petition the Public Utilities Commission to be regulated like a CLEC, a lighter regulatory touch. The bill also contains rural call completion language, a new requirement for intermediate carriers to register with the State, and allows telcos to itemize their fees on customer bills.
MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen stated: “This was a perfect example of consensus. We didn’t get everything we wanted — nobody did; what we did get is a bill that forces the state to acknowledge that telcos are a competitive utility and can no longer be treated like a monopoly.”
The 2016 Omnibus Jobs and Economic Development bill contains language that sets up the 2016 Broadband Grant Program. The fund was set at $35 million and follows most of the same procedures as previous programs, with a few changes:
Unserved is still defined as less than 25Mbps download/3Mbps upload.
Underserved is defined as the difference between unserved and 100Mbps download/20Mbps upload.
Grant applicants will now have to notify other providers in the areas where they are applying for grants and document the responses with their application.
Three days after the close of the application process, the Office of Broadband Development must post each application received.
Prevailing wage does not apply to last mile projects.
The prevailing wage issue is very significant. That came about because of the hard grassroots efforts by MTA members. The fact that our members never let up and consistently told their legislators the impact it had on previous grants was finally heard in St. Paul.
MTA Peer Group 2016 Investment Opportunities Open!
MTA’s core purpose is to enhance the success and viability of its telecommunications industry members. You are an important part of helping us fulfill this mission. Here is your opportunity to maximize the impact of your event sponsorships for 2016.
IT’S HOT HOT HOT! What to Do when the Outside Temperature Gets Turned up to HOT.
The temperature is raising and now is the time to be prepared for the days when it's HOT, HOT, HOT. It is important to realize that the temperature reading on the thermometer is not the only reading that you should be concerned about on those very hot days; we also need to be aware of the heat index. The heat index measures how hot it really feels when the relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. For example, if the temperature reading is 85° F but the humidity is at 80 percent, the temperature that you feel is more like 97° F.
So when is hot too hot? When temperatures are in the range of 90° to 105° F, heat cramps and exhaustion may occur. Between 105° and 130° F, heat exhaustion is almost certain, and activities should be significantly limited. When temperatures reach over 130 degrees F heat stroke is likely.
What are some of the heat stress disorders?
Heat cramps: usually the result of strenuous physical activity in a hot environment, which may cause an electrolyte imbalance. Symptoms can include muscle cramps, sweating, thirst and fatigue. Treatment should include cooling off and drinking water or sports drinks. Seek medical assistance if the cramps do not subside in one hour.
Heat exhaustion: is the result of the combination of excessive heat and dehydration; it can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. Treatment should include drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages, resting, taking a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath and seeking an air-conditioned environment. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
Heat stroke: is the most serious disorder associated with heat stress. It occurs when the body’s temperature regulation fails and body temperature rises to critical levels. It is a medical emergency that can lead to permanent disability or death if emergency treatment is not provided. Symptoms may include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F), red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating), rapid strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, unconsciousness. Heat stroke should be treated as a medical emergency. Call for immediate medical assistance and begin to cool the individual down.
What can be done to prevent heat stress?
Frequent work breaks in an area that is cooler than the work environment.
Drink plenty of water or non-caffeinated beverages. The most important factor in preventing heat stress is adequate water intake. A person should drink five to seven ounces of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
If fatigue, weakness, dizziness, faintness, nausea or headaches occur, move to a cool area and drink plenty of cold water.
Park Region Telephone Announces Agreement to Purchase Rothsay Telephone Company
Park Region Telephone is pleased to announce it has entered into an agreement to purchase Rothsay Telephone Company. Over the years, the two companies have worked on many joint business opportunities to bring advanced services to their customers. Historically, Rothsay customers have enjoyed advanced telecommunication services at reasonable prices through the dedicated services of the Stowman family and staff. Park Region will continue that tradition for years to come and remain dedicated to improving the quality of life for the area.
“We are excited and honored to have this opportunity to extend the company’s services to the Rothsay area. The Stowman family has been an integral part of the success of the community and we fully intend to continue that tradition and commitment,” said Dave Bickett, CEO of Park Region Telephone.
“Park Region has impressed us with their commitment to customers, and we are confident they will continue to advance the telephone and broadband networks and services in the Rothsay area. We see this change as good for our Rothsay customers,” said Paul Stowman, President and General Manager of Rothsay Telephone Company.
The sale is expected to be completed by the end of 2016 contingent on receiving necessary regulatory approvals.
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