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Parsons Defends Cell Tower Bill

The Northeast Cobb Republican legislator responded to critics of HB 176, which goes to the Georgia House Rules Committee this week.

A Northeast Cobb state lawmaker who is the chief sponsor of a major piece of wireless legislation is defending the bill as necessary for public safety and economic development.

State Rep. Don Parsons, a Repulican, explained in a video posted Friday that HB 176 is more than beneficial to cellular and wireless companies.

The bill, known officially as the Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development (BILD) Act, would streamline cell tower approvals by limiting the time local governments can take to act on applications.

HB 176 would provide a 150-day window for approval or rejection by local governments. If those bodies take no action in that time, an application is considered approved.

The legislation was approved last week by the Georgia House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee that Parsons chairs and will be sent to the Rules Committee this week for a full House vote.

"That's a lot of time, a lot more time that's being given than in other Southeastern states," Parsons said in the video of the 150-day limit.

HB 176 has the support of the cellular and wireless industry and such pro-business groups as Americans for Prosperity.

It is by opposed by Georgia Municipal Association (see attached PDF) and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia as well as a number of local governments, including the north Fulton city of Milton.

Parsons said that cell towers accommodate more than phones, with smart phones, tablets and other complex devices requiring more bandwidth.

"It's not the 150 days cities and counties object to. Not once have they come to me and asked for some other number of days," he said. "What they disagree with is that they cannot demand money from and charge the cell phone companies what they want."

According to a 2012 AJC article, metro Atlanta was ranked as the second-most-wired region in the country by Forbes magazine.

"There's a demand for cell service in this state that is only going to increase," Parsons added. "There's demand for bandwidth that's only going to increase. This bill will go a long way toward those issues."

The AJC reported this week that a similar "shot clock" measure approved in 2009 by the Federal Communications Communication is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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