Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 575

    February Session, 2016

Substitute Senate Bill No. 104

Senate, April 11, 2016

The Committee on Government Administration and Elections reported through SEN. CASSANO, S. of the 4th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE STATE CIVIC NETWORK.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subdivision (45) of subsection (a) of section 16-1 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2016):

(45) ["The Connecticut Television Network" means the General Assembly's state-wide twenty-four-hour state public affairs programming service, separate and distinct from community access channels] "The State Civic Network" means the state-wide cable programming channel and Internet web site established under section 2 of this act that provides (A) live and archived coverage of state government and civic affairs, and (B) access to information about the processes and actions of the legislative, executive and judicial branches;

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) (a) There is established a State Civic Network to provide, through a dedicated, basic tier cable programming channel and an Internet web site, television coverage, live transmission of video and audio material over the Internet and digital video archives of proceedings impacting the state, including, but not limited to: (1) Legislative meetings, hearings and sessions; (2) arguments before the Supreme Court, Appellate Court and Superior Court; (3) executive state agency hearings and meetings; (4) public policy discussions, debates, press conferences and civic events; (5) election coverage and coverage related to the electoral process; and (6) studio productions and educational videos providing additional information on the working of the government of the state.

(b) The State Civic Network shall be managed by a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is funded by subscribers of community antenna television systems pursuant to 47 USC 531 et seq. and selected in accordance with section 3 of this act. Such organization shall: (1) Provide the staffing, institutional expertise and board governance to operate the State Civic Network in a nonpartisan and independent manner; (2) establish, maintain and revise as necessary operating agreements with each branch of government; (3) maintain the State Civic Network's operational and editorial independence in a manner consistent with the provisions of such operating agreements; (4) establish, maintain and revise as necessary carriage distribution and retransmission agreements with appropriate video programming services, including, but not limited to, cable television, direct broadcast satellite and broadband video; and (5) provide, operate and maintain all equipment and infrastructure needed for the programming, engineering and distribution of State Civic Network programming.

(c) Each community antenna television company and each multichannel video programming distributor shall include the State Civic Network in its basic service package.

(d) As used in this section, "multichannel video programming distributor" means a multichannel video programming distributor, as defined in 47 CFR 76.1300, as amended from time to time, and includes an owner of an open video system, as defined in 47 CFR 76.1500, as amended from time to time.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) (a) The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority shall issue a request for proposals and subsequently assign responsibility for managing the State Civic Network established under section 2 of this act for a period of ten years to a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization located in the state that the authority determines to be the most qualified, based on the following criteria: (1) The organization's performance and experience in providing gavel-to-gavel coverage of state government proceedings; (2) the operating plan and technology plan submitted by the organization for providing coverage of state government proceedings; (3) the organization's proposed budget, including expenses for salaries, consultants, attorneys and other professionals; (4) the quality and quantity of the programming to be created, promoted, facilitated or continued by the organization; (5) the organization's procedures to ensure compliance with federal and state law, including the regulations of Connecticut state agencies; and (6) any other criteria determined to be relevant by the authority. At the conclusion of the initial ten-year term, and every ten years thereafter, the authority shall hold a hearing, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes, concerning the ability of the organization previously selected to continue its responsibility for managing the State Civic Network. In its decision following such a hearing, the authority may assign the responsibility for management of the State Civic Network to another organization or the previously selected organization in accordance with the procedure set forth in this subsection.

(b) If an organization assigned responsibility for managing the State Civic Network ceases to provide such management, such organization shall transfer its network-related assets to the successor organization assigned such responsibility or, if no successor organization is assigned such responsibility, to another nonprofit organization within the state selected by the authority.

(c) All assets related to the operation of the State Civic Network that are owned by the state of Connecticut on June 30, 2016, shall be transferred to the organization assigned responsibility for managing the State Civic Network not later than ninety days after the authority's issuance of a decision under subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) (a) There is established a State Civic Network Advisory Council. The council shall consist of the following members: (1) One appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; (2) one appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate; (3) one appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives; (4) one appointed by the minority leader of the Senate; (5) four appointed by the Governor; and (6) four appointed by the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

(b) All initial appointments to the council shall be made not later than September 1, 2016, and shall terminate on June 30, 2017, June 30, 2018, June 30, 2019, and June 30, 2020, respectively, as set forth in subsection (d) of this section, regardless of when the initial appointment was made.

(c) The Governor shall select the chairperson of the council from among the members of the council. Such chairperson shall schedule the first meeting of the council. The council shall meet at least twice a year.

(d) Appointed members of the council shall serve for four-year terms which shall commence on July first in the year of the appointment, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section and except that members first appointed shall have the following terms: (1) One member appointed by the Governor, one member appointed by the Chief Justice and the member appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall each initially serve a term of one year; (2) one member appointed by the Governor, one member appointed by the Chief Justice and the member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, who shall each initially serve a term of two years; (3) one member appointed by the Governor, one member appointed by the Chief Justice and the member appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall each initially serve a term of three years; and (4) one member appointed by the Governor, one member appointed by the Chief Justice and the member appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, who shall each initially serve a term of four years. Members shall continue to serve until their successors are appointed.

(e) Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority. Any vacancy occurring other than by expiration of term shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term.

(f) The members of the council shall serve without compensation.

(g) The council shall have the following powers and duties: (1) To serve as a liaison between the nonprofit organization responsible for managing the State Civic Network and the executive, judicial and legislative branches; (2) to obtain from any executive, judicial or legislative department, board, commission or other agency of the state such assistance and data as necessary and available to carry out the purposes of this section; (3) to accept any gift, donation or bequest for the purpose of performing the duties described in this section; and (4) to perform such other acts as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out the duties described in this section.

Sec. 5. Subsection (i) of section 16-331 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2016):

(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (b) and (d) of this section, the authority shall not renew a franchise for a term of more than five years if the authority determines that the person, association or corporation, during the term of the prior franchise, has substantially failed to (1) deal effectively with consumer requests, complaints and billing or service questions and disputes; (2) provide quality and diversity of programming; (3) maintain fair and reasonable rates for basic and extended basic service, and associated equipment, taking into consideration the quality of service and programming provided to consumers; (4) provide quality community access programming, including public access, educational access, governmental access programming and the [Connecticut Television] State Civic Network or its successor; or (5) meet commitments for service extension to customers within the franchise area. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the authority to set specific rates for service or associated equipment.

Sec. 6. Section 2-71x of the general statutes is repealed. (Effective July 1, 2016)

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2016

16-1(a)(45)

Sec. 2

July 1, 2016

New section

Sec. 3

July 1, 2016

New section

Sec. 4

July 1, 2016

New section

Sec. 5

July 1, 2016

16-331(i)

Sec. 6

July 1, 2016

Repealer section

GAE

Joint Favorable Subst.

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 17 $

FY 18 $

Various State Agencies

All Funds - Cost

See Below

See Below

Department of Revenue Services

GF - Revenue Gain

3.2 million

3.2 million

Note: All Funds=All Funds; GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities

Effect

FY 17 $

FY 18 $

Various Municipalities

Cost

See Below

See Below

Explanation

The bill establishes the State Civic Network (Network) and requires the Network to be funded by cable subscribers which will result in a potential cost to the state and municipalities as ratepayers.

The bill also requires the Network to be managed by a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization selected by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and requires the state to transfer any assets it owns as of June 30 2016, that are related to the State Civic Network's operation, to the organization. This provision will result in a loss of asset value to the state.

Lastly, the bill eliminates an existing annual diversion of $3.2 million in Public Service Companies tax revenue from the General Fund to the Office of Legislative Management. This results in a $3.2 million General Fund revenue gain annually beginning in FY 17.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.

OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 104

AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE STATE CIVIC NETWORK.

SUMMARY:

This bill establishes the State Civic Network, funded by cable subscribers and managed by a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization selected by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) through a request for proposals (RFP). The bill establishes the State Civic Network to provide, through a dedicated, basic tier cable programing channel and website, television coverage, live video and audio transmission online, and digital archives of proceedings impacting the state.

The bill requires cable television companies and multichannel video programming distributors (e.g., direct broadcast satellite services) to carry the network. Federal law appears to prohibit states from regulating the provision of direct broadcast satellite services.

The bill also establishes a 12-member State Civic Network Advisory Council, to, among other things, act as a liaison between the organization managing the State Civic Network and the state government branches covered by the network.

The bill eliminates statutory reference to the Connecticut Television Network (CTN), which, under current law, is the General Assembly's state-wide 24-hour state public affairs programming service, distinct from community access channels. The bill eliminates a requirement that the comptroller set aside $3.2 million per year from the cable television companies' tax to defray the Office of Legislative Management's costs of providing CTN coverage.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016

STATE CIVIC NETWORK COVERAGE

Under the bill, proceedings covered by the State Civic Network include:

The bill requires cable television companies and multichannel video programming distributors to carry the network. Under the bill, “multichannel video programming distributors” (1) are entities that make available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming, and (2) include cable operators, direct broadcast satellite services, television receive-only satellite program distributors, and satellite master antenna television system operators.

It appears the bill's requirement that multichannel video programming distributors (e.g., direct broadcast satellite services) include the State Civic Network in their basic service package may conflict with federal law, which provides that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the provision of direct-to-home satellite services (47 USC 303(v)).

Current law requires cable companies to provide CTN or its successor to its subscribers as a condition of PURA renewing their franchise. The bill instead requires the companies to provide the State Civic Network. (In practice, most cable companies in the state have obtained a certificate of cable franchise authority from PURA that does not have to be renewed.)

MANAGEMENT

Organization Duties

The bill requires the organization managing the State Civic Network to:

PURA's Initial RFP Requirements

The bill requires PURA to issue an RFP to select a nonprofit nonpartisan organization to manage the State Civic Network for a 10-year period. The bill directs PURA to determine and select the most qualified organization, based on:

Subsequent Terms

Under the bill, after the initial 10-year term, and every 10 years thereafter, PURA must hold a fair hearing concerning the previously selected organization's ability to continue managing the State Civic Network. In its decision following the hearing, PURA may assign responsibility for management of the State Civic Network to the previously selected organization or another organization. (In cases when PURA selects another organization, the bill appears to require a new RFP.)

Asset Transfer

The bill requires the state to transfer any assets it owns as of June 30 2016 that are related to the State Civic Network's operation, to the organization PURA selects to manage the network within 90 days of PURA's decision.

Under the bill, if an organization responsible for managing the State Civic Network ceases to provide management, it must transfer its network-related assets to a successor organization, or, if none is designated, to another nonprofit within the state selected by PURA. (The bill does not define “network-related assets.”)

STATE CIVIC NETWORK ADVISORY COUNCIL

Duties

The bill establishes the State Civic Network Advisory Council to:

Appointments

Under the bill, the 12-member council consists of (1) four members appointed by the governor, (2) four members appointed by the Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice, and (3) four members appointed by legislative leaders. The initial appointments have staggered terms, as shown in Table 1. Under the bill, all initial council appointments must be made by September 1, 2016. Excluding the initial term, appointees to the council serve for four year terms, but members serve until their successors are appointed. The bill requires appointing authorities to fill any vacancy on the council, filling vacancies occurring before a term expires for the balance of the unexpired term. Under the bill, council members serve without compensation.

Table 1: State Civic Network Advisory Council Initial Terms

Members

Appointing Authority

One Year Initial Term, Ending June 30, 2017

1

Governor

1

Chief Justice

1

House minority leader

Two Year Initial Term, Ending June 30, 2018

1

Governor

1

Chief Justice

1

Senate minority leader

Three Year Initial Term, Ending June 30, 2019

1

Governor

1

Chief Justice

1

House speaker

Four Year Initial Term, Ending June 30, 2020

1

Governor

1

Chief Justice

1

Senate president pro tempore

The bill requires the governor to select the council's chairperson from its members. Under the bill, the council must meet at least twice per year and the chairperson must schedule its first meeting.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

8

Nay

6

(03/21/2016)

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