< Back to H.R. 486 (105th Congress, 1997–1998)

Text of the Native American Telecommunications Act of 1997

This bill was introduced on January 21, 1997, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jan 21, 1997 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 486 IH

105th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 486

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to promote greater telecommunications and information services to Native Americans, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 21, 1997

Mr. RICHARDSON introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce


A BILL

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to promote greater telecommunications and information services to Native Americans, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Native American Telecommunications Act of 1997’.

SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY.

    (a) AMENDMENT- Title I of the Communications Act of 1934 is amended by inserting after section 11 (47 U.S.C. 161) the following new section:

‘SEC. 12. ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY.

    ‘(a) FINDINGS- The Congress finds that--

      ‘(1) Indian and Alaskan Native people live in some of the most geographically remote areas of the country, with 50 percent of Indian and Alaskan Native people living in Oklahoma, California, South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, and Washington;

      ‘(2) Indian poverty in reservation areas is 3.9 times the national average rate;

      ‘(3) the average phone penetration rates for rural Native Americans is only 50 percent and actual penetration rates are often much lower;

      ‘(4) what phone service there is in Indian country is often substandard and prohibitively expensive;

      ‘(5) the Telecommunications Act of 1996 establishes a Federal-State Joint Board which issued recommendations on how to make low-cost telephone service affordable to all and to define what is deemed to be ‘universal service’;

      ‘(6) the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the Federal Communications Commission to implement the recommendations from the Joint Board by May 8, 1997;

      ‘(7) the benefits of Federal universal service policies have often not reached Indian country;

      ‘(8) the Federal Government and the States have not historically adequately required telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications services on Indian lands; and

      ‘(9) the United States recognizes the sovereignty of Indian tribes in relation to the States through a government-to-government relationship, as reflected in the Constitution, treaties, Federal statutes, and the course of dealings of the United States with Indian tribes.

    ‘(b) POLICY REQUIRED- Within 120 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Commission shall initiate a proceeding to develop and establish an official policy regarding the relations between the Commission and American Indians, including Alaskan Natives. In establishing such policy, the Commission shall--

      ‘(1) recognize--

        ‘(A) the special needs of American Indians, including Alaskan Natives, as determined under subsection (a);

        ‘(B) the sovereign authority of tribal governments; and

        ‘(C) the trust obligations of the United States;

      ‘(2) promote the exercise of sovereign authority of tribal governments over the establishment of communications policies and regulations within their jurisdictions;

      ‘(3) seek to promote Native Americans’, including Alaskan Natives’, participation in the consumption and provision of telecommunications services; and

      ‘(4) not preclude the opportunity for improved negotiations between tribes and the States.

    ‘(c) NOTICE OBLIGATIONS- The policy established pursuant to subsection (b) shall include procedures for giving Native Americans, including Alaskan Natives, notice and the opportunity for meaningful participation and comment in any proceedings affecting tribal lands, including competitive bidding conducted under section 309(j) of bands of frequencies in areas under the jurisdiction of tribal governments.

    ‘(d) FORBEARANCE- The Commission shall forbear from applying any provision of this Act or any regulation thereunder to the extent that such forbearance--

      ‘(1) is necessary to ensure compliance with the trust responsibility of the United States; and

      ‘(2) is consistent with the public interest.

    ‘(e) TRIENNIAL REVIEW- The Commission shall review and revise as necessary the policies established pursuant to subsection (b) at least once every 3 years after the establishment of such policies.’.

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 309(j)(3)(B) of such Act (47 U.S.C. 309(j)(3)(B)) is amended by inserting ‘Indian tribes, Alaskan Native villages,’ after ‘including’.

SEC. 3. ATTAINMENT OF UNIVERSAL SERVICE PRINCIPALS IN INDIAN COUNTRY.

    Section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (b)--

        (A) by redesignating paragraph (7) as paragraph (8); and

        (B) by inserting after paragraph (6) the following new paragraph:

      ‘(7) ACCESS BY NATIVE AMERICANS- Because States have not historically exercised the authority to require telecommunications carriers to deliver services on Indian lands, and because of the trust responsibilities of the United States, the responsibility to ensure the delivery of telecommunications and information services to Native Americans, including Alaskan Natives, at just, reasonable, and affordable rates is a Federal responsibility that should be assured by means of the Federal support mechanisms established under this section, taking into account any support mechanisms established by the States.’; and

      (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    ‘(l) MAINTENANCE OF NATIVE AMERICAN SUBSCRIBERSHIP AND AFFORDABILITY DATA- The Commission shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to obtain reliable statistics concerning the extent of subscribership to, and the affordability of, telecommunications and information services on Indian lands. Such data shall be maintained by the Commission in a form that is easily accessible to the public. The Commission shall periodically review and summarize such data in its annual reports under section 4(k), and shall, on the basis of such review, take such other actions as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this section with respect to the delivery of telecommunications and information services to Native Americans, including Alaskan Natives, at just, reasonable, and affordable rates.’.

SEC. 4. INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT POLICY INITIATIVES.

    Section 103 of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 902) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    ‘(d) NATIVE AMERICAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE POLICY INITIATIVES- In carrying out the authority to serve as the President’s adviser under subsection (b)(2)(D), the Assistant Secretary and the NTIA shall be responsible for designing and proposing policy initiatives to encourage investment in, and the deployment of, telecommunications systems on Indian lands.’.