Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist sent a letter to the Tennessee Legislature last week in opposition to legislation that would nearly double the “pole attachment fee” that utilities charge private telecommunications companies to run lines that attach to electric poles.

The bills, HB 1111 and SB 1222, would nearly double the existing attachment fee from $17 to $33 per attachment. The national average is $7 per attachment; this would give Tennessee a rate nearly five times the national average. This would result in nearly $20 million being passed on to Tennessee families in the form of higher cable and internet bills.

The following is an excerpt from Norquist’s letter to the legislature:

I write in strong opposition to House Bill 1111 and Senate Bill 1222, which would increase the rate paid by cable and telecommunications providers to government-run utilities. The 'pole attachment fee,' paid in exchange to use utility companies’ electric poles to run cable and telecommunications lines, would increase to $33 per pole under this legislation. That is nearly five times the national average rate of $7 per pole, and would result in $20 million in additional fees being passed on directly to consumers.

“Tennessee’s pole attachment fee is already 2.5 times the national average, at $17 per pole. These bills would nearly double that already exorbitant cost, raising telecommunications costs and stunting private investment. The private companies shouldering this burden are already struggling to invest in Tennessee, and to create jobs and spur development across the state. HB 1111 and SB 1222 represent massive barriers to private sector led growth.

“During these difficult economic times, Tennessee families simply can’t the additional fees that will be passed on to consumers as a result of this legislation. With four years of tax increases coming out of Washington via Obamacare and other federal action, state government should give the people some relief from the burden of government, not increase its cost.