Dear Editor,

State Senate Bill 2664, sponsored by State Senator Raymond Lesniak, has been put on hold largely due to thousands of people who urged their senators to vote against it. However, the bill will come up for vote in late April.

Sen. Lesniak’s bill, which would deregulate cable and telephone services, will have many unintended negative consequences.  Consumers would lose their ability to contest rate increases, poor service quality or unexplained charges. In addition, 85% of states that enacted similar deregulation bills saw large rates increases. More money for the big telecommunications corporations at the expense of average consumers.

Currently, rates for basic landline services are capped.  Although requests are rarely denied, telephone companies wishing to increase rates must apply to the Board of Public Utilities. If Senator Lesniak’s bill becomes law in its current form, the proverbial lid will come off and charges for basic landlines will increase.  This will particularly affect vulnerable citizens including home-bound individuals, the disabled and the elderly, many of whom rely heavily on landlines for emergencies. According to a recent AARP survey, over two-thirds of New Jerseyans 50+ already struggle with paying basic utility bills; any increase in these bills will only worsen matters.

Sen. Lesniak’s bill is bad for New Jersey consumers—especially people financially struggling.  Call 1-800-844-2272 to be connected to ask your senator state senator to do the right thing: Vote no on S-2664.

Douglas Johnston

AARP NJ Governmental Affairs Manager

Princeton, NJ