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Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

  

                         Laws of Minnesota 1987 

                        CHAPTER 308-S.F.No. 1029 
           An act relating to utilities; establishing program to 
          provide communication-impaired people with devices 
          enabling their use of telephones; creating advisory 
          committee and requiring report; providing for payment 
          of costs of program; proposing coding for new law in 
          Minnesota Statutes, chapter 237. 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
    Section 1.  [237.50] [DEFINITIONS.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [SCOPE.] The terms used in sections 1 to 7 
have the meanings given them in this section.  
    Subd. 2.  [BOARD.] "Board" means the telecommunication 
access for communication-impaired persons board established in 
section 2.  
    Subd. 3.  [COMMUNICATION IMPAIRED.] "Communication impaired"
means certified as deaf, severely hearing impaired, hard of 
hearing, speech impaired, or deaf and blind. 
    Subd. 4.  [COMMUNICATION DEVICE.] "Communication device" 
means a device that when connected to a telephone enables a 
communication-impaired person to communicate with another person 
utilizing the telephone system.  A "communication device" 
includes a ring signaler, an amplification device, a telephone 
device for the deaf, and a telebraille unit. 
    Subd. 5.  [EXCHANGE.] "Exchange" means a unit area 
established and described by the tariff of a telephone company 
for the administration of telephone service in a specified 
geographical area, usually embracing a city, town, or village 
and its environs, and served by one or more central offices, 
together with associated facilities used in providing service 
within that area. 
     Subd. 6.  [FUND.] "Fund" means the telecommunication access 
for communication-impaired persons fund established in section 3.
    Subd. 7.  [INTEREXCHANGE SERVICE.] "Interexchange service" 
means telephone service between points in two or more exchanges. 
    Subd. 8.  [INTER-LATA INTEREXCHANGE SERVICE.] "Inter-LATA 
interexchange service" means interexchange service originating 
and terminating in different LATAs. 
    Subd. 9.  [LOCAL ACCESS AND TRANSPORT AREA.] "Local access 
and transport area (LATA)" means a geographical area designated 
by the Modification of Final Judgment in U.S. v. Western 
Electric Co., Inc., 552 F. Supp. 131 (D.D.C. 1982), including 
modifications in effect on the effective date of sections 2 to 5.
    Subd. 10.  [LOCAL EXCHANGE SERVICE.] "Local exchange 
service" means telephone service between points within an 
exchange. 
    Subd. 11.  [MESSAGE RELAY SERVICE.] "Message relay service" 
means a central statewide service through which a 
communication-impaired person, using a communication device, may 
send and receive messages to and from a 
non-communication-impaired person whose telephone is not 
equipped with a communication device and through which a 
non-communication-impaired person may, by using voice 
communication, send and receive messages to and from a 
communication-impaired person.  
    Sec. 2.  [237.51] [BOARD.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [CREATION.] The telecommunication access 
for communication-impaired persons board is established to 
establish and administer a program to distribute communication 
devices to eligible communication-impaired persons and to create 
and maintain a message relay service. 
    Subd. 2.  [MEMBERS.] The board consists of 12 persons to 
include: 
    (1) the commissioner of the department of human services or 
the commissioner's designee; 
    (2) the director of the department of public service or the 
director's designee; 
    (3) five communication-impaired persons appointed by the 
governor;  
    (4) one person appointed by the governor who is a 
professional in the area of communications disabilities. 
    (5) one person appointed by the governor to represent the 
telephone company providing local exchange service to the 
largest number of persons; 
    (6) one member of the Minnesota Telephone Association 
appointed by the governor to represent other affected telephone 
companies; and 
    (7) one person appointed by the governor to represent 
companies providing inter-LATA interexchange telephone service; 
and 
    (8) one person to represent the organization operating the 
message relay service to be appointed by the governor at the 
time the board contracts with the organization pursuant to 
section 5. 
    Subd. 3.  [REMOVAL; VACANCY; EXPENSES.] The removal of 
members and filling of vacancies shall be handled as provided 
under section 15.059, subdivision 4.  Members of the board may 
be reimbursed for expenses incurred in attending meetings as 
authorized by the commissioner's plan adopted under section 
43A.18, subdivision 2. 
    Subd. 4.  [MEETINGS.] The board shall meet at least monthly 
until December 31, 1988, and at least quarterly thereafter. 
    Subd. 5.  [DUTIES.] In addition to any duties specified 
elsewhere in sections 2 to 7, the board shall: 
    (1) define economic hardship, special needs, and household 
criteria so as to determine the priority of eligible applicants 
for initial distribution of devices and to determine 
circumstances necessitating provision of more than one 
communication device per household; 
    (2) establish a method to verify eligibility requirements; 
     (3) research and publish lists of available communication 
devices and compatibility of the devices with available 
telephone equipment; 
     (4) enter contracts for the establishment and operation of 
the message relay service pursuant to section 5; 
     (5) inform the public and specifically the community of 
communication-impaired persons of the program; 
     (6) prepare the reports required by section 6; 
     (7) administer the fund created in section 3;  
     (8) retain the services of a program administrator; and 
    (9) study the potential economic impact of the program on 
local communication device retailers and dispensers and develop 
guidelines for the purchase of some communication devices from 
local retailers and dispensers if the study determines that 
otherwise they will be economically harmed by implementation of 
sections 1 to 7. 
    Subd. 6.  [ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT.] The director of the 
department of public service shall provide staff assistance not 
including the program administrator who is to be chosen by the 
board, administrative services, and office space under a 
contract with the board.  The board shall reimburse the 
commissioner for services, staff, and space provided.  The board 
may request necessary information from the supervising officer 
of any state agency. 
    Sec. 3.  [237.52] [FUND; ASSESSMENT.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [FUND.] A telecommunication access for 
communication-impaired persons fund is established as an account 
in the state treasury.  Earnings, such as interest, dividends, 
and any other earnings arising from fund assets, must be 
credited to the fund. 
    Subd. 2.  [ASSESSMENT.] The board shall annually recommend 
to the commission an adequate and appropriate mechanism to 
implement sections 1 to 7.  The commission shall annually 
determine the funding mechanism to be used within 60 days of 
receipt of the recommendation of the program administrator and 
shall order the imposition of surcharges effective on the 
earliest practicable date.  The commission shall establish a 
monthly charge no greater than ten cents for each customer 
access line, including trunk equivalents as designated by the 
commission pursuant to section 403.11, subdivision 1. 
    Subd. 3.  [COLLECTION.] Every telephone company providing 
local service in this state shall collect the charges 
established by the commission under subdivision 2 and transfer 
amounts collected to the commissioner of administration in the 
same manner as provided in section 403.11, subdivision 1, 
paragraph (c).  The commissioner of administration must deposit 
the receipts in the fund established in subdivision 1. 
     Subd. 4.  [APPROPRIATION.] Money in the fund is 
appropriated to the board to implement sections 2 to 7. 
    Subd. 5.  [EXPENDITURES.] Money in the fund may only be 
used for: 
    (1) program administration including personnel cost, public 
relations, board members' expenses, preparation of reports, and 
other reasonable expenses not to exceed 20 percent of total 
program expenditures; 
    (2) reimbursing telephone companies for purchases made or 
services provided pursuant to section 4; 
    (3) contracting for establishment and operation of the 
message relay service required by section 5. 
    All costs directly associated with the establishment of the 
board and program, the purchase and distribution of 
communication devices and the establishment and operation of the 
message relay service are either reimbursable or directly 
payable from the fund after authorization by the board. 
    Sec. 4.  [237.53] [COMMUNICATION DEVICES.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [APPLICATION.] A person applying for a 
communication device under this section must apply to the 
program administrator on a form prescribed by the board.  
    Subd. 2.  [ELIGIBILITY.] To be eligible to obtain a 
communication device under this section, a person must be: 
    (1) at least five years of age; 
    (2) communication impaired; 
    (3) a resident of the state; 
    (4) a resident in a household that has a median income at 
or below the applicable median household income in the state, 
except a deaf and blind person applying for a telebraille unit 
may reside in a household that has a median income no more than 
150 percent of the applicable median household income in the 
state; and 
     (5) a resident in a household that has telephone service or 
that has made application for service and has been assigned a 
telephone number. 
    Subd. 3.  [DISTRIBUTION.] The telephone company providing 
local exchange service to the largest number of persons in the 
state shall purchase and distribute to each other telephone 
company providing local exchange service a sufficient number of 
communication devices so that each eligible household receives 
an appropriate device.  Each telephone company providing local 
exchange service shall distribute the devices to eligible 
households in its service area free of charge as directed by the 
program administrator.  Initial distribution of the devices will 
be on a priority basis as determined by the board under section 
2. 
    Subd. 4.  [TRAINING; MAINTENANCE.] The company providing 
local exchange service to an eligible household shall maintain 
the communication devices and provide training, without charge, 
to first-time users of the devices. 
    Subd. 5.  [WIRING INSTALLATION.] If a 
communication-impaired person is not served by telephone service 
and is subject to economic hardship as determined by the board, 
the telephone company providing local service shall at the 
direction of the administrator of the program install necessary 
outside wiring without charge to the household. 
    Subd. 6.  [OWNERSHIP.] All communication devices purchased 
pursuant to subdivision 3 will become the property of the 
company providing the communication device to eligible 
recipients and are excluded from that company's rate base for 
the purpose of establishing rates under section 237.075 as 
applicable. 
    Subd. 7.  [STANDARDS.] The communication devices 
distributed under this section must comply with the electronic 
industries association standards and approved by the Federal 
Communications Commission.  Each company must provide each 
eligible person a choice of several models of devices, the 
retail value of which may not exceed $600 for a communication 
device for the deaf and a retail value of $7,000 for a 
telebraille device. 
    Subd. 8.  [REIMBURSEMENT.] The board shall reimburse 
telephone companies for the cost of any purchase or service 
required under this section from money in the fund established 
in section 3. 
    Sec. 5.  [237.54] [MESSAGE RELAY SERVICE.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [ESTABLISHMENT.] The board shall contract 
with an inter-LATA interexchange telephone service provider to 
establish a third-party message relay service with an "800" 
number to enable telecommunication between 
communication-impaired persons and non-communication-impaired 
persons. 
    Subd. 2.  [OPERATION.] The board shall contract with a 
local consumer organization that serves communication-impaired 
persons for operation of the message relay system.  The operator 
of the system shall keep all messages confidential, shall train 
personnel in the unique needs of communication-impaired people, 
and shall inform communication-impaired persons and the public 
of the availability and use of the system.  The operator shall 
not relay a message unless it originates or terminates through a 
communication device for the deaf or a telebraille device. 
    Sec. 6.  [237.55] [REPORTS; PLANS.] 
    The board shall prepare a report for presentation to the 
commission not later than December 31, 1987, to include plans 
for distributing communication devices and establishing a 
third-party message relay service and a recommendation for a 
funding mechanism pursuant to section 3, subdivision 2.  The 
provision of service required under sections 1 to 7 may begin 
when the plan is approved by the commission or March 1, 1988, 
whichever is earlier.  
     Beginning in 1988, the board must prepare a report for 
presentation to the commission by December 31 of each year 
through the year 1992.  Each report must review the 
accessibility of the telephone system to communication-impaired 
persons, review the ability of non-communication-impaired 
persons to communicate with communication-impaired persons via 
the telephone system, describe services provided, account for 
money received and disbursed annually for each aspect of the 
program to date, and include predicted future operation until 
the final report.  
     The final report must, in detail, describe program 
operation and make recommendations for the funding and service 
level for necessary ongoing services.  The commission may 
recommend changes in the program to the legislature throughout 
its operation and shall make a recommendation to the legislature 
by February 1, 1993, for the future provision and maintenance of 
the services. 
    Sec. 7.  [237.56] [ADEQUATE SERVICE.] 
    The services required to be provided under sections 1 to 6 
may be enforced under section 237.081 upon a complaint of at 
least two communication-impaired persons within the service area 
of any one telephone company, provided that if only one person 
within the service area of a company is receiving service under 
sections 1 to 6, the commission may proceed upon a complaint 
from that person. 
    Sec. 8.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    Sections 1 to 7 are effective July 1, 1987, and are 
repealed effective June 30, 1993. 
    Approved May 28, 1987