CADILLAC — Free market, meet democracy.
Just days after she introduced it, state Rep. Michele Hoitenga's broadband bill is dead.
Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton, would know.
She's the chairwoman of the state House Communications and Technology Committee. Whether a bill assigned to her committee ever gets a hearing is up to her.
Friday morning, she told the Cadillac News that House Bill 5099 won't get a hearing. She can't withdraw it, but she has no intention of letting her own bill proceed, she said.
Local chamber of commerce members told her they didn't like the way the bill was worded, Hoitenga said.
"I really respect the chamber," she said.
The bill, which would have blocked municipalities from using state, local or federal funds or loans to pay for "qualified internet service" and would have required them to do business with private parties if they did want to spend cash on internet service, was something of a rough draft.
On Thursday, she'd told the Cadillac News that amendments would be forthcoming and the bill was bound to change.
Hoitenga's free-market values drove the bill initially, she said. She didn't want smaller broadband companies to be pushed out of the market by paying onerous permitting fees to local governments.
But Hoitenga, who received thousands of dollars in total donations from telecommunications groups and companies in 2017, said locals told her after she introduced the bill that it wasn't good policy.
"I've got to be a voice of the people," she said.
Hoitenga said the donations ($2,500 from Telecommunications Association of Michigan, $1,500 from AT&T Michigan, $500 from Comcast Corporation & NBC Universal, $500 from Michigan Cable Telecommunications in 2017, according to a Friends to Elect Michele Hoitenga For State Rep filing in July) wouldn't have impacted her vote.
Her voting record shows where she stands on the free market, she said on Thursday.
Hoitenga also said on Thursday she introduced the bill because she wanted to start the conversation.
She favored allowing people to vote on broadband spending via a ballot initiative, she said.
But the bill Hoitenga introduced didn't say anything about ballot initiatives. Asked what the rush was and why she introduced a bill knowing she favored that change, Hoitenga said other colleagues were working on pension reform and she wanted to prevent municipalities from taking on more unfunded liabilities.
The general population is oblivious to unfunded liabilities in their communities, and public broadband can contribute to the debt, she said.
"I'm really torn," Hoitenga said. She values the free market but has to listen to the will of the people.
Now she'll use her position as chairman to quash her own bill.
"I'm not holding a hearing," she said Friday morning. She'd planned to hold one on Tuesday but had decided not to put it on the agenda, she said.