FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/22/2013
REP. SIMMONS VOTES TO DEFEND FREE-MARKET PRINCIPLES
AUSTIN - This week, State Representative Ron Simmons, HD 65 voted alongside House conservatives, defending free-market principles on House Bill (HB) 1600 (Public Utility Commission Sunset Bill).
The bill authorizes the continuation of the PUC in Texas and provides for some changes. It merges water and wastewater management into PUC from TCEQ, but also grants PUC new ability to issue "cease and desist" orders to power marketers it deems are a threat to the health, safety, or well-being of the electricity grid and people of Texas. Previously, this action was only allowed by direct court order.
Conservatives fought valiantly to remove this threat to free market principles in the bill and Rep. Simmons voted alongside these colleagues to amend necessary language, including:
• Removing "cease and desist" from the bill, but the amendment failed on the vote of a coalition of and some , despite the recommendation of the Caucus.
• Implementing a cap on fees to the Universal Service Fund. This is the longtime fee tacked onto every Texan's phone bill to help government subsidize "high cost" service areas in rural and some urban parts of the state; the amendment failed on largely regional and non-partisan lines.
• Providing for an opt-out revision of smart meters - a provision that would have allowed consumers to opt-out of smart meter usage after paying a small service charge to be set by the PUC. The amendment failed on arguments from other members that the PUC was currently considering a provision in rules.
"We fought hard for conservative principles on the floor this week over HB 1600 and have learned some important lessons about policy, principle, and process that will serve us all well in the future. I intend to continue my fight for conservative principles in the committee rooms, halls, and on the floor for the people of House District 65 and Texas," said Rep. Simmons.