CHAPTER 245

(SB 121)

Public Utilities Commission to approve
the sale or transfer of telecommunications property
and telecommunications companies to report consolidations.


         ENTITLED, An Act to  revise the authority of the Public Utilities Commission to approve the sale or transfer of telecommunications exchanges and to revise the provisions concerning the obligation of telecommunications companies to report consolidations, mergers, and changes to control.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

     Section  1.  That § 49-31-20 be amended to read as follows:

     49-31-20.   Any telecommunications company that holds a certificate of authority to operate in this state shall notify the commission of any consolidation or merger with another telecommunications company or transfer of stock or other ownership interests that will result in a different person then owning more than fifty percent of the company's stock or ownership interests .

     Section  2.  That § 49-31-59 be amended to read as follows:


     49-31-59.   The Legislature recognizes that the sale of telephone exchanges has a profound impact upon South Dakota, especially during a time when the world is undergoing a revolution in telecommunications technology. Because the sale of any exchange in our state directly affects the continued vitality and viability of rural South Dakota during that revolution, it is the Legislature's intent that the sale of each exchange be held to a high degree of scrutiny. Any sale of a telecommunications exchange shall be approved by a vote of the Public Utilities Commission. A separate vote is required on the sale of each exchange. In voting, the commission. Within twenty days following receipt of a telecommunications company's application to sell an exchange, the commission shall publish notice of the proposed sale in a newspaper of general circulation in each county in which an exchange to be sold provides service. The applicant shall reimburse the commission for the cost of the publication. The notice shall inform the public of their right to file a petition of intervention in the proceeding or to submit comment within fifteen days following publication of the notice. The commission shall , if applicable, consider the protection of the public interest, and to the extent applicable, the adequacy of local telephone service, the reasonableness of rates for local service, the provision of 911, Enhanced enhanced 911, and other public safety services, the payment of taxes, and the ability and commitment of the local exchange company to provide modern, state-of-the-art telecommunications services that will help promote economic development, tele-medicine, and distance learning in rural South Dakota. The . If no hearing is held on the application, the commission shall issue its order pursuant to this section within forty-five days following the publication of the notice. If a hearing is held on the application, the commission shall issue its order pursuant to this section within one hundred eighty twenty days of the filing of the application. For any application filed on or before March 30, 1995, the commission shall issue its order no later than August 1, 1995 following the publication of the notice. The commission's order may include conditions that the commission finds necessary to ensure compliance with the criteria set forth in this section. For the purposes of this section, the term, sale, means the passing, for consideration, of title to the assets comprising a telecommunications exchange, but does not include nonasset sale transactions such as mergers, consolidations, stock sales, or financing transactions. For the purposes of this section, the term, exchange, means the switching, transmission, other equipment and facilities and associated permits, authorizations, service rights, customer contracts, and related assets by which a telecommunication company provides local exchange service throughout a local exchange area utilizing its own facilities .

     Signed March 3, 2005
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