Net neutrality protections pass Senate by one vote

May 5, 2018 GMT

HARTFORD — A bill that would allow the state to regulate the Internet in the absence of federal net neutrality rules passed the Senate by one vote Friday night.

“The internet has become the lifeblood of our world,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven. “We should not allow private parties to be able to promote certain users and handicap others.”

A vote from Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman was necessary to break the party line 18-18 vote in the Senate in order to pass the measure. It will now go to the House for a vote.

The issue of net neutrality has gained steam since the Federal Communications Commission, under President Donald Trump, decided to dismantle Obama-era Internet regulations. Net neutrality advocates fear the change could enable internet providers to throttle consumer internet speeds, block certain websites or force some businesses to pay more to put their content on the same internet platform.

“The Trump administration’s discarding of net neutrality rules represents a dangerous rollback of consumer protections,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk. “Preserving open internet is good for Connecticut’s businesses, startups, students and consumers

Republicans argued the bill, which prevents throttling in Connecticut, stifled the free market with too much government regulation.

“The internet came out in the 1990s. Net neutrality came out in 2015,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven. “The biggest boom in the internet was in that time. It was a free market so people were able to get in there an innovate.”

Senate Republicans killed a net neutrality bill in committee this year using a procedural tactic afforded to them by their 18-18 tie in the Senate.

Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, worried that the bill would go against federal law and prompt lawsuits, he said in March, after leading the stoppage of the bill.

Senate Democrats revived the bill Friday night by amending it to a solar panel bill.

Oregon and Washington have passed similar protections.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson