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Telecom Bill Passes Legislature

Kansas legislators have given final approval to a bill reducing state regulation of telecommunications while beginning to phase out state subsidies for telecom firms.

The House passed the bill Friday on a vote of 99-20. The Senate passed it Thursday, 37-3.

The measure is a compromise that reconciles differences between the two chambers and now heads to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Under the bill, some telecommunications firms could avoid minimum service quality standards or having to provide land-line service to all customers. But the measure also reduces the subsidies for universal land-line service financed through a charge on customers' bills.

Affected companies include AT&T Inc.The state's largest phone service provider pushed for the measure.

Critics say the bill will hurt consumers. Backers say competition will protect customers.