Miss. lawmakers delay action on phone dereg bill

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JACKSON — Mississippi lawmakers are delaying action on a bill that would further deregulate AT&T as they try to work out changes to placate some opponents.

The House Public Utilities Committee has put off action until Thursday after lawmakers balked Wednesday at voting for a heavily amended bill without more time to study it. Members of the state Public Service Commission remain opposed to House Bill 825, though.

Amendments offered Wednesday would explicitly leave the responsibility for handling phone service complaints with the state Public Service Commission, and would leave the commission’s current authority over directing federal funds to extend service.

Proposed changes also would strip out any changes to telephone switching charges, which some small telephone companies perceive as a threat to their revenues.