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1701A S. 2nd Street
Austin TX 78704
(512) 912 1327
(Fax) 912 1375

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To: Public Utility Commission
From: D.J. Powers, Attorney for the Center For Economic Justice
Re: Denial Of Basic Telephone Service For Nonpayment Of Long Distance Charges

Question Presented

Under PURA 3.258(a), a telecommunications utility must provide basic local telephone service to all customers within its certified area, except as provided by statute. PURA 3.258(b)(1) permits discontinuation of service for nonpayment of "charges." The PUC promulgated rules that permit a telecommunications utility to deny service for nonpayment of charges for service other than basic local telephone service. Did the PUC have the authority to promulgate these rules?

Brief Answer

No. Administrative agencies may not promulgate rules which conflict with a statute. Under standard rules of statutory construction, the only "charges" for which nonpayment justifies disconnection are charges for basic local telephone service. In addition, the rules are defective because they authorize violations of the Texas Debt Collection Act.

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