HB 1779 Modifies laws regarding underground facilities and telecommunications services

     Handler: Griesheimer

Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -

SS/SCS/HCS/HB 1779 - This act modifies provisions pertaining to the provision of utility services.

SECTIONS 319.015-319.050 - EXCAVATION

Under current law, gas distribution lines, electric lines, telecommunications facilities, cable T.V. facilities, water lines, storm drainage, and sewer lines located on private property and owned by the landowner are not considered "underground facilities" for purposes of the Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention Act. This act modifies this definition by requiring that if any of the above-mentioned lines are used for vehicular traffic control, the lighting of streets and highways, or communications for emergency response, they shall be considered an "underground facility." The lines shall also be considered an "underground facility" if they cross or lie within a public easement, public right-of-way, or another person's property.

The Missouri Department of Transportation shall not be required to be a participant in the notification center after December 31, 2011, but may continue to participate after that time if it so chooses.

Under current law, persons who own or operate underground pipeline facilities are deemed to comply with requirements to identify excavators in their pipeline areas if, among other things, the notification center maintains a list of all excavators who gave notice of intent to excavate during the previous five years. The act reduces the required timeframe from the previous five years to just the previous year.

The act requires that, as part of the process to request the locating of underground facilities, the notification center shall ask excavators to identify if the proposed excavation will be on public right-of-way or easement for public vehicular traffic use.

The act removes the requirement that an excavator shall mark the excavation location for certain excavations when the underground facility owner notifies the excavator that the excavation location cannot be determined from the information provided.

The act removes the current law that requires the notification center's records of all notices of intent to excavate to be in written form and allows electronic records to be considered official records as well. The act also requires as part of the record of a notice of intent to excavate that the record list all the underground facility owners who were notified of such excavation.

The act allows design requests to be made through the notification center. Any such design request shall provide the same information as what is required for a notice of intent to excavate and the notification center shall treat a design request in a manner similar to a notice of intent to excavate. Underground facility owners who receive notification of a design request shall either mark the pipeline location or else contact the person making the design request within 5 working days of receiving the notification. Making a design request does not relieve any person from submitting a notice of intent to excavate to the notification center for the actual excavation work.

The act modifies the time period in which an underground facility owner must contact the excavator in response to a notice of intent to excavate. Current law requires the underground facility owner to contact the excavator within 2 working days of receiving the notice, but the act modifies the time period to within 2 working days beginning at 12 a.m. following receipt of the request by the notification center.

The act modifies the ways in which an owner or operator of an underground facility may contact an excavator to inform him or her that no facilities are in the area of excavation. The act allows such person to call the "responsible person" if such person is not the same as the excavator, in addition to using email or cell phone numbers to reach the excavator. The act provides that if the only means of contact for the facility owner or operator to reach the excavator is via telephone, two attempts to reach the excavator shall constitute compliance.

The act requires an owner or operator of an underground facility who did not respond as required to an excavator's original notice of intent to excavate, to respond within 2 hours of receiving a second notice, or by 10 a.m. the next business day in certain circumstances.

Owners or operators of underground facilities shall respond to a notice of an emergency within two hours of receiving such a notice. Excavators may be liable for costs associated with compliance by the owner or operator with this provision if the situation is not actually an emergency situation as defined.

The act repeals Section 319.036 regarding exemptions to the excavation notification requirements for agricultural property.

The act contains an effective date of January 1, 2009 for sections 319.015-319.050.


Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service providers must obtain a registration from the Public Service Commission (PSC) before they can provide service. Exchange access charges for VOIP service providers will be the same that are charged for telecommunications services.

VOIP service providers shall collect and remit the same fees and surcharges as required for local exchange telecommunications companies, which include certain telecommunications programs, Missouri Universal Service Fund, local enhanced 911, any applicable license tax, and the PSC's annual assessment. VOIP service providers shall file an annual report with the PSC, with required elements as listed in the act.

The act excludes VOIP from being defined as "telecommunications service."

Under current law, in any area serviced by an incumbent local exchange telecommunications company (ILEC) where an alternative local exchange telecommunications company has been certified to also operate, the PSC must render a decision regarding certain proposed tariffs within 45 days of the proposal's filing date. The act modifies the area to which this provision applies to include areas where an ILEC has been classified as "competitive" and areas where a VOIP service provider is registered and provides local voice service.

The act authorizes customer-specific pricing on an equal basis for incumbent and alternative local exchange companies and interexchange telecommunications companies for any retail business service offered to an end-user in a noncompetitive exchange.

The act requires any tariff to introduce a new package of telecommunications services or modify an existing package of services to be filed on an informational basis with the PSC at least one day before the package introduction or modification. Any tariff to eliminate a package of services shall be filed on an informational basis with the PSC at least 10 days prior to elimination.

Under current law, the PSC may suspend a proposed rate or charge for a new telecommunications service for up to 60 days from the new rate or charge's proposed effective date. This act reduces the time period from 60 to 30 days.

Under current law, the PSC may suspend the operation of a schedule that states a new rate, rental, or charge for a telecommunications company for up to 120 days from the date when the new rate, rental or charge would go into effect. The act reduces the time period from 120 to 60 days. The act also reduces, from 6 months to 90 days, the time period that the PSC may extend the schedule suspension if a full hearing cannot be conducted within the time of original suspension.

Large ILECs shall be subject to price cap regulations if a VOIP service provider is registered to provide service in the incumbent's service area. Small ILECs may elect to be subject to price cap regulations if a VOIP service provider registers to provide service in their areas.

Currently, the maximum allowable prices for exchange access and basic local telecommunications service provided by ILECs shall be annually changed by one of two methods. The act removes the option to select either one method or the other, and instead requires the provisions in both methods to be followed. The act modifies the first method by basing the change on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than on only the telephone service component of the CPI. The act removes the current second method based on the Gross Domestic Product and instead allows companies that are subject to price-cap regulations to set the rate for basic local telecommunications service in noncompetitive exchanges at a level not to exceed the statewide average for basic service in the companies' competitive exchanges, with a maximum allowable annual increase of $2 per month for a 4-year period.

The act reduces from 30 to 10 days, the amount of time in which the PSC shall approve a tariff filed by an ILEC to change its rates for service.

Any registered VOIP service provider in an area shall be considered as providing basic local telecommunications service.

Currently, the PSC is required to review exchanges where an ILEC is classified as competitive to make sure competitive conditions still exist at least every two years or when an ILEC raises its rates for basic service. The act modifies this requirement where the PSC is limited to reviewing such exchanges not more than once every two years.

When 55% or more of an ILEC's subscriber access lines are in exchanges designated as competitive, the ILEC shall be considered competitive and no longer subject to price-caps, except that rates for basic service in noncompetitive exchanges shall not exceed the statewide average rate in the ILEC's competitive exchanges for 4 years. During the 4-year period, any annual rate increase for residential basic local service shall not exceed $2 per month and rates for exchange access service shall not exceed the rates charged at the time of competitive designation.

ILECs designated as competitive and alternative local exchange telecommunications companies shall not be subject to certain PSC rules regarding customer billing, network engineering and maintenance, and service objectives except that the PSC may reimpose the rules under certain circumstances as specified in the act.

The act modifies provisions relating to how an ILEC may reduce intrastate access rates. The act adds the criteria of "annual" to the current law, which would now require the total "annual" revenue increase from increased rates for basic local service to not exceed the total "annual" revenue loss from reduced intrastate access rates.

The act removes provisions concerning maximum allowable prices for nonbasic services provided by certain ILECs and instead exempts nonbasic services from any limitations on maximum allowable prices for any ILEC that is subject to price-caps.

The PSC shall waive certain standards, to include quality of service and billing standards, for existing alternative local exchange telecommunications companies and for alternative local exchange telecommunications companies who apply for a certificate of service authority to provide basic local service. Where an alternative local exchange company is approved or where a registered VOIP provider operates, the ILEC may elect to opt into some or all of the waivers granted to the alternative local exchange company or VOIP provider.

The PSC may reimpose the waived standards for certain ILECs only when it is found that the ILEC has engaged in a pattern or practice of inadequate service. Such ILECs must be notified and given the opportunity to correct the deficiencies before the PSC may reimpose any waived standards.


The act sets the maximum penalty for a single violation of any order by the PSC relating to federal natural gas safety standards at $15,000 per violation. The maximum penalty for a continuing violation or a multiple series of such violations is $150,000. The maximum penalties increase by increments described in the act in the years 2015, 2025, 2035, and 2040. The PSC may determine the amount of the penalty based on several variables as described in the act. Each violation shall be considered a separate and distinct offense.

The act repeals Sections 392.490 and 392.515, RSMo.


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