Local Cable and Broadband Regulation

California is the most recent state to vote for open access internet, despite the Federal Trade Commission’s repeal earlier this year. According to The New York Times, 34 states (and the District of Columbia) have introduced some kind of open internet legislation. Many people are unaware that the issues of open access internet and net neutrality can be made at the local and state level. By simply using Agenda Discovery’s software, you can stay up-to-date on your city council meeting schedule and be included in the conversations about internet access and pricing. 

Here’s what you need to know about local cable and broadband regulation:

 

How City Regulations Impact The Broadband Options That Are Available to You 

Many people are surprised to learn that the broadband internet that is available to them isn’t part of some untouchable master plan made between the federal government and internet service provider corporations. Your broadband options are directly impacted by city regulations and your local government. 

It’s a fact that telecommunications companies need physical infrastructures, like wires and signal towers to operate. Many of which are shared with the utility companies that operate in your area. So providers must negotiate with local governments and local utility companies to ask if they are allowed to set-up what they need to be operational in a given jurisdiction. 

As you might have guessed, local utility companies often try to get as much from the internet company as they can before allowing them to set-up-shop. It’s at this level of bargaining that your options for internet access, and how much it will cost you, are ultimately decided upon.

 

Government Regulations And How You’re Charged for Internet 

Areas with more internet providers correlate to higher competition and ultimately means the consumer (you) will pay premium prices for the internet you use. While some cities have had success choosing only one internet provider for the entire city, not only for the wallets of the city’s residents but for the city’s growth towards a consolidated “smart’: infrastructure, some ethical grey area emerges. 

Allowing only one internet service for a city paves the way for an industry monopoly. It also doesn’t allow people the ability to choose, and in a way, controls what they have access to. Politicians could also use internet service provider options as leverage during elections. This then means that corporations and politicians would be working hand-in-hand in plain sight to sway legislation. This, as you likely know, opens the door for a whole mess of scary possibilities that take more control from people, and weakens the power of the individual vote. But luckily, legislative tracking makes it easy to stay on top of local cable and broadband regulation.

 

Legislative Tracking: The Idea of Open Access 

But what if any service provider could “just work” anywhere? Making all options available to anyone wherever they lived, and all at competitive prices? This is ultimately the idea of open access internet. Although federal government regulations repealed the idea of open access internet and net neutrality earlier this year, the issue can still be tackled at a state legislative level.

Earlier this year the repeal of net neutrality made headlines across the world. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fought against the idea that all internet service providers must be treated equally. The FCC claimed that not discriminating or charging a company based on factors like users, content, or platform hurt the telecommunications industry’s infrastructure. A claim that was proven to be a false statement by a recent university study on the impact of net neutrality and open access internet.

 

Let Agenda Discovery Help! 

It can be difficult to keep track of every meeting on the city council calendar. It can be even more time consuming to break down what will be discussed in every city council agenda. That’s why our Agenda Discovery software was made. Our technology creates a government agenda alert every time a topic of interest is added to your local government’s schedule.
Have questions? Want to see how our platform can work for you? Request a demo here!

Legislative Tracking: Minimum Wage Increase

Americans are seeing the highest minimum wage increases in history. So how did we get here? Cue our nation’s state and local governments. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting for minimum wage regulations, and will probably continue in the immediate future. How will you know if an increase in the minimum wage will be on your city council calendar soon? We’ve done the legislative tracking for you. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of raising the minimum wage. 

 

The History of Minimum Wage in America 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first American president to extend the nationwide minimum wage in 1938. In the Progressive Era, the standard was 25 cents per hour, allocated for inflation, which equals about $4.45 after inflation. According to CNN, “Congress has raised the minimum wage 22 times. The current level, at $7.25 an hour, was set in 2009.”

A lack of congressional effort to support adjusting wages to balance inflation is why so many cities and states have opted to set their own minimum wage requirements. If federal, state, and local governments didn’t address this issue every few years, we’d still be making pennies. 

Twenty-nine states and D.C. have all raised their minimum wages above what national law requires. The last federal minimum increase was in 2009, which set the legal minimum wage for all workers to $7.25 per hour. 21 states still uphold the limits set in 2009 by the federal government, however, the minimum wage for tipped workers is still $2.13 per hour; it hasn’t been adjusted since 1991. 

But why haven’t they?

 

Does Minimum Wage Impact Businesses?

The long-standing argument is that if city regulations require businesses to increase their minimum wages past a certain point, the economy will essentially collapse. Which sounds extreme, because it is. It’s becoming clear that increasing the federal minimum wage doesn’t actually have a drastic impact on local businesses.

One recent study followed a handful of American cities that had risen the minimum wage to or above $10 per hour. The city with the highest minimum wage in the study was in Seattle at $13 per hour. The report focused on how raising the minimum wage had impacted the foodservice industry since it is a major employer of low-wage workers. 

What did they find? Those businesses remained unaffected by the change in the minimum wage. Lower turnover, higher employee productivity, and slight increases in menu prices absorbed the added costs for most companies. 

There have been two more recent attempts to raise the minimum wage, one in 2013 and one in 2014 that failed. House Republicans opposed the first and in 2014 Senate Republicans killed the bill by filibuster.

 

Where Government Regulations Stand

In response to the inability to have wage increases mandated at a federal level, state and

local governments have taken the initiative, added to the local city council agenda, and

implemented their own laws. In 2019, the number of states that adopted minimum wage increases to $15 per hour nearly doubled. Also notable is the number of cites, towns, and counties that are currently considering $15 minimum wages.

New studies have not looked into cities that raised the minimum wage to specifically $15, but it’s not expected to make a significant impact.

 

Using a Government Agenda Alert 

You have the power to dictate what the minimum wage is for your business and your family since most of the movement on this issue happens at a local level. But where do you even start?

One of the best ways to stay on top of what’s happening in your local government is to use the Agenda Discovery software. We make it easy to be notified if something like the minimum wage increase, will be on your next city council meeting schedule. Contact us to learn more and schedule a demo! 

Smart Cities are Coming

Recently China’s 1984-style “social credit” technology sent the world buzzing in discussions of privacy, security, and smart cities. If you aren’t familiar with the system, it’s an Internet of Things (IoT) based systems that collectively rank people based on their actions and use of certain tools and products through video and data monitoring. For example, a citizen can lose social credit points for participating in a protest. A low social credit score can lead to a lack of job and housing opportunities. While this is an extreme example of smart city technology, nearly every urban city is slowly evolving to become “smarter”. Yes,, even the one you live in. 

Where is it all going? Will every city implement a Chinese-style social credit system in the near future? That’s where you come in, and using tools like Agenda Discovery for legislative tracking becomes so important for citizens. 

Here’s what you need to know about smart cities:

 

What is a Smart City, Exactly? 

Simply put, a smart city is a city that utilizes IoT for the management of its core systems like transportation, parking, crime, waste, water utilities, public services, buildings, energy, communication, and more. The idea is that through artificial intelligence (AI), and even in some cases blockchain, a city can function completely, or almost completely on its own, with little need for human labor and intervention. 

Many people don’t realize that smart cities are already happening, everywhere, just not in as dramatic ways as a sci-fi movie might have you believe. Local governments across the world have implemented smart technologies in their city management systems. The evolution of smart cities is happening in nearly every urban area, just in small pieces. 

 

Tracking Government Regulations for Smart Cities 

The United States is slower to smart city adaption than its European and Asian counterparts, but it’s catching on. 

New York City’s LinkNYC network would be considered an early entry into smart city territory. The tool offers services like free WiFi, phone calls, charging stations, and more to residents. LinkNYC is completely funded by the advertisements on every LinkNYC kiosk. 

In Santa Cruz, California police have put big data to use in a system that predicts crime based on historical data. This allows the department to focus its efforts on where crime is most likely going to happen and to set city regulations accordingly. 

Columbus, Ohio has implemented a smart city program that offers new electric vehicle charging stations, along with receiving funding to create a more sustainable and technologically integrated city infrastructure over the next few years. 

These cities are only a handful of examples of many. There are hundreds of tech companies positioning themselves on the city council agenda as smart solutions for cities across the countries. For example, Thought Wire, offers connectivity services that enable smart buildings and hospitals. BlocPower, is an energy grid management platform that scales clean energy in inner cities and aims to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Blink Identity, is a safety technology that identifies people at walking speed. Aclima, is an environmental services solution that monitors air pollution and emissions, and there are so many more! 

 

Smart City Regulations: Pros and Cons of Technology  

Smart technology has been slowly integrated into a modern lifestyle, so it makes sense that our cities would change to support that. For example, by 2025 retail IoT will be worth almost $95 Billion. Half of the American workforce works remotely to some degree. When is the last time you wrote a physical paper check to pay your mortgage or rent? How often do you rely on your smartphone for maps, parking, and building access? All of these core changes to our daily life derive from IoT. 

As you might have guessed there are some criticisms when it comes to the adaptation of smart cities. Primarily when it comes to privacy, security, and government regulations. For example, how much personal data will be collected from citizens? How ethical is it to not allow people the option of being recorded? How secure are these technological platforms? 

One of the primary reasons smart technology hasn’t completely taken over everything yet is because of the lack of knowledge and ability to protect sensitive data against cybersecurity attacks

Because of the piece-by-piece integration of smart cities, some have criticized that the adaptation lacks a central plan and organization that’s vital to its success. Some fear that low-income groups will be further left behind in technology-enabled cities and that problems like affordable housing and employment for these at-risk groups will continue to be glossed over.  

 

Using Agenda Software for Legislative Tracking 

In most cases, the implementation of smart city technology doesn’t just happen. Local governments have to approve the technology, and at times citizens may even have to vote on it. But unfortunately, this information isn’t always readily available and delivered to people directly. Monitoring your city’s integration to smart technology requires a watchful eye. 

It can be difficult to keep track of every meeting on the city council calendar. It can be even more time consuming to break down what will be discussed in every city council meeting schedule. That’s why our Agenda Discovery software was made. Our technology creates a government agenda alert every time a topic of interest is added to your local government’s schedule.

Have questions? Want to see how our platform can work for you? Request a demo here!

 

 

Legislative Tracking: Plastic Water Bottle Bans

Americans purchased 11 billion plastic beverage bottles in 2018. Only one-fifth of all plastic is recycled. That means 8.8 billion plastic water bottles were left in the streets, landfills, and oceans last year.

Plastic waste is a major environmental and public health concern. Consumers have turned to companies and governments to help reduce the amount of plastic waste.

Some municipalities have even gone as far as to pass government regulations that ban the use of some plastic products in their cities. Since packaging is the number one in plastic polluters, plastic water bottles are the target.

The question is, will a ban like this come to your city soon? It seems likely, in time. Especially given that consumers have made a significant shift towards sustainability. Here’s what you need to know about plastic water bottle bans, and how Agenda Discovery’s software can help!

 

The Global Government Agenda Alert On Plastic

According to our recent data, waste issues are discussed in one out of every four local government meetings. Additionally, plastic bans are happening in the United States and across the world.

Bundanoon, a town in Australia, banned bottled waters back in 2009. It was the first ban of its kind in the world. Many different regions of Canada have put government regulations in place that ban the use of plastic water bottles. But, the most significant was in Toronto, the country’s largest city. 

 

City Regulations To Ban Water Bottles

More cities across the country have initiated plastic bans. Chances are, you’ll likely see the issue on your city council calendar and agenda sooner than later. San Francisco is the largest city to ban plastic water bottles. It began its plastic water bottle phase-out plan back in 2007.

Aside from San Francisco, cities across Massachusetts have led successful campaigns against plastic water bottles. Concord, MA was the first town to start a complete ban on the sale of plastic water bottles. Other towns near Concord have attempted bans, getting water bottle regulations added to the city council meeting schedule, but not passing the vote.

The city of Brookline, MA made a law that forbids any city money to be spent on plastic bottles and Martha’s Vineyard banned sales of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages in plastic bottles. Earlier this year a regional campaign in Cape Cod began the movement to completely eradicate the use of plastic bottles from the area, the second phase of this process will start in January 2020.

 

Legislative Tracking Polyethylene Terephthalate

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a toxic chemical found in plastic. Banning this chemical is another indirect way governments can officially forbid plastic water bottles. PET is the chemical that makes it dangerous to drink water bottles after they have been sitting in a hot car. Cities and even states like California aren’t only pushing for bans of water bottles, but the use of harmful plastics completely.

Our Agenda Discovery software suggests that more bans like this will be proposed over the next decade. There is research that indicates that PET can also interact with medications when it is used in medication bottles. Bans like these would not only focus on water bottles, but the plastic used in packaging and other products too.

 

What’s Next? Using Agenda Software

City regulations about the use of plastic water bottles mean well but can create new challenges on the city council agenda. For example, cities and towns that ban the use of plastic bottles will likely need to establish a new community water program, and introduce measures like drinkable water in water fountains, more water stations installed, and more reusable bottles sold in stores. Additionally, cities will need to vote on the types of punishment and fines for breaking the law.

 

How Agenda Discovery Can Help

It can be difficult to keep track of every meeting on the city council calendar. It can be even more time consuming to break down what will be discussed in every city council meeting schedule, which is why our agenda discovery software was made. Our technology creates a government agenda alert every time a topic of interest is added to your local government’s schedule.

Have questions? Want to see how our platform can work for you? Request a demo here!