It remains to be seen whether McAllen and dozens of other cities across the state will lose upward of $800 million from telecom companies.
On Wednesday, a state district judge in Travis County heard testimony challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1152, which cuts the fees telecommunication companies pay cities for using their rights-of-way.
Traditionally, those companies pay municipalities two fees in order to run telephone and cable lines through the city’s property. But the new law, which was supposed to go into effect in January, allows those same companies to pay only one fee if both services are delivered through the same line.
The city of McAllen sued the state in order to stop that law and Senate Bill 1004 from going into effect. Since then, more than 50 other cities have joined the fight, arguing the implementation of those laws would result in an annual loss of more than $813 million.
Wednesday’s hearing focused on SB 1152 and asked a judge to temporarily halt its implementation, according to information from a McAllen news release.
“The lawsuit contends that the two laws severely limit local municipalities when it comes to authority over wireless and telecommunication providers from being fairly compensated on the use of municipal right-of-way,” the release stated.
But the judge did not reach a decision on Wednesday. Instead, that decision will likely be made in the coming weeks, McAllen city officials said via the news release.
“It is the hope of the coalition that the hearing will result in a just outcome, namely the prohibition of taxpayer money subsidizing telecommunications corporations with unconstitutional grants of public land,” officials said.
City of McAllen attorneys said they will continue the fight even if the injunction is not granted.
“The coalition is looking forward to moving forward with the lawsuit and arguing the case at trial on its merits,” the release stated.