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Nathan Newman on March 16, 2006 - 9:43am
After the debacle of electricity deregulation and Enron, you'd think states wouldn't be rushing to hand consumers over to the unregulated mercies of another industry. But Kentucky is joining the trend of states ending almost all price limits for retail customers of telephone service. Indiana, for example, is considering similar changes. Just as AT&T has purchased Bell South, creating a $165 billion behemoth that threatens consumer rights, states are eliminating most consumer protections against fraud or manipulation:
"This is perhaps the best piece of corporate overreaching and the worst piece of consumer legislation that I've seen in my 26 years in the legislature," said House Majority Whip Joe Barrows, D-Versailles. Barrows predicted the bill will leave most consumers unknowingly locked into contracts that contain costly termination clauses. Among other things, the bill eliminates state pricing regulation rates of any customer who chooses a package of services marketed by the phone company would go unregulated. More than half of customers subscribe to such packages. Companies would not have to divulge to state regulators the rates they charge for such package deals.When companies aren't even required to disclose their rates to allow states to track what's happening in the marketplace, you have a clear example of corporate-drafted legislation meant to allow companies to hide manipulation of the market under a cloak of secrecy.