2005 Texas Utilities Code CHAPTER 57. DISTANCE LEARNING AND OTHER ADVANCED SERVICES


UTILITIES CODE
CHAPTER 57. DISTANCE LEARNING AND OTHER ADVANCED SERVICES
SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 57.001. CONFLICT OF PROVISIONS. If this chapter conflicts with another provision of this title, this chapter prevails. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
SUBCHAPTER B. DISTANCE LEARNING AND INFORMATION SHARING
§ 57.021. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter: (1) "Distance learning" means an instruction, learning, or training resource, including video, data, voice, or electronic information, that is: (A) used by an educational institution predominantly for instruction, learning, or training; and (B) transmitted from a site to one or more other sites by a telecommunications service. (2) "Educational institution" includes: (A) an accredited primary or secondary school; (B) an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code; (C) a private institution of higher education accredited by a recognized accrediting agency as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code; (D) the Texas Education Agency and its successors and assigns; (E) a regional education service center established and operated in accordance with Chapter 8, Education Code; or (F) the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and its successors and assigns. (3) "Library" means: (A) a public library or regional library system as defined by Section 441.122, Government Code; or (B) a library operated by an institution of higher education or a school district. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.022. REDUCED RATES FOR DISTANCE LEARNING OR INFORMATION SHARING SERVICES. (a) The commission by rule shall require a dominant carrier to file a tariff that includes a reduced rate for a telecommunications service the commission finds is directly related to: (1) a distance learning activity that is or could be conducted by an educational institution in this state; or (2) an information sharing program that is or could be conducted by a library in this state. (b) The commission rules shall specify: (1) each telecommunications service to which Subsection (a) applies; (2) the process for an educational institution or library to qualify for a reduced rate; (3) the date by which a dominant carrier is required to file a tariff; (4) guidelines and criteria that require the services and reduced rates to further the goals prescribed by Section 57.023; and (5) any other requirement or term that the commission determines to be in the public interest. (c) The commission is not required to determine the long run incremental cost of providing a service before approving a reduced rate for the service. (d) Until cost determination rules are developed and the rates established under this section are changed as necessary to ensure proper cost recovery, the reduced rates established by the commission shall be equal to 75 percent of the otherwise applicable rate. (e) After the commission develops cost determination rules for telecommunications services generally, the commission shall ensure that a reduced rate approved under this section: (1) recovers service-specific long run incremental costs; and (2) avoids subsidizing an educational institution or a library. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.023. SERVICE AND RATE REQUIREMENTS. The services and reduced rates must be designed to: (1) encourage the development and offering of: (A) distance learning activities by educational institutions; and (B) information sharing programs of libraries; (2) meet the: (A) distance learning needs identified by the educational community; and (B) information sharing needs identified by libraries; and (3) recover the long run incremental costs of providing the services, to the extent those costs can be identified, to avoid subsidizing an educational institution or a library. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.024. TARIFF FILINGS. A tariff filed by a dominant carrier under Section 57.022: (1) may concern the implementation of this subchapter only; (2) is not a rate change under Subchapter C, Chapter 53; and (3) does not affect the carrier's other rates or services. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.025. CHANGES IN RATE PROGRAM. (a) An educational institution, library, or dominant carrier may request the commission to: (1) provide for a reduced rate for a service that: (A) is directly related to a distance learning activity or an information sharing program; and (B) is not covered by commission rules; (2) change a rate; (3) amend a tariff; or (4) amend a commission rule. (b) The commission shall take the action requested under Subsection (a) if the commission determines the action is appropriate. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
SUBCHAPTER C. TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE FUND
§ 57.041. FINDINGS AND POLICY. (a) The legislature finds that commercial mobile service providers: (1) benefit from the public telecommunications network by the ability to originate and terminate calls that traverse the mobile and cellular network; and (2) will benefit by the advancement of the public telecommunications network through projects funded under this subchapter. (b) It is the policy of this state that commercial mobile service providers contribute an appropriate amount to the telecommunications infrastructure fund. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.042. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter: (1) "Ambulatory health care center" means a health care clinic or an association of such a clinic that is: (A) exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(a), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, as an organization described by Section 501(c)(3), as amended; and (B) funded wholly or partly by a grant under 42 U.S.C. Section 254b, 254c, or 256, as amended. (2) "Board" means the telecommunications infrastructure fund board. (3) "Commercial mobile service provider" means a provider of commercial mobile service as defined by Section 332(d), Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.), Federal Communications Commission rules, and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (Pub. L. No. 103-66). (4) "Fund" means the telecommunications infrastructure fund. (5) "Institution of higher education" means: (A) an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code; or (B) a private or independent institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code. (6) "Library" means: (A) a public library or regional library system as those terms are defined by Section 441.122, Government Code; (B) a library operated by an institution of higher education or a school district; or (C) a library operated by a nonprofit corporation as defined by Section 441.221(3), Government Code. (7) "Public not-for-profit health care facility" means a rural or regional hospital or other entity such as a rural health clinic that: (A) is supported by local or regional tax revenue; (B) is a certified not-for-profit health corporation, under federal law; or (C) is an ambulatory health care center. (8) "School district" includes an independent school district, a common school district, and a rural high school district. (9) "Public school" means a public elementary or secondary school, including an open-enrollment charter school, a home-rule school district school, and a school with a campus or campus program charter. (10) "Taxable telecommunications receipts" means taxable telecommunications receipts reported under Chapter 151, Tax Code. (11) "Telehealth service" means a health service, other than a telemedicine medical service, delivered by a licensed or certified health professional acting within the scope of the health professional's license or certification who does not perform a telemedicine medical service that requires the use of advanced telecommunications technology, other than by telephone or facsimile, including: (A) compressed digital interactive video, audio, or data transmission; (B) clinical data transmission using computer imaging by way of still-image capture and store and forward; and (C) other technology that facilitates access to health care services or medical specialty expertise. (12) "Telemedicine medical service" means a health care service initiated by a physician or provided by a health professional acting under physician delegation and supervision, for purposes of patient assessment by a health professional, diagnosis or consultation by a physician, treatment, or the transfer of medical data, that requires the use of advanced telecommunications technology, other than by telephone or facsimile, including: (A) compressed digital interactive video, audio, or data transmission; (B) clinical data transmission using computer imaging by way of still-image capture and store and forward; and (C) other technology that facilitates access to health care services or medical specialty expertise. (13) "Telepharmacy system" means a system that monitors the dispensing of prescription drugs and provides for related drug use review and patient counseling services by an electronic method, including the use of the following types of technology: (A) audio and video; (B) still image capture; and (C) store and forward. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1212, § 32, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 959, § 6, eff. June 14, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1220, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1255, § 11, eff. June 15, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1350, § 6, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1275, § 2(137), eff. Sept. 1, 2003. § 57.044. TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE FUND BOARD. (a) The telecommunications infrastructure fund board consists of: (1) three members appointed by the governor; (2) three members appointed by the governor from a list of individuals provided by the speaker of the house of representatives; and (3) three members appointed by the lieutenant governor. (b) The governor shall designate the presiding officer of the board. (c) The governor and the lieutenant governor, in making appointments to the board, and the speaker of the house of representatives, in compiling a list of recommended persons, shall attempt to select members who are representative of, but not limited to: (1) urban and rural school districts; (2) institutions of higher education; (3) libraries; and (4) the public. (d) A person may not serve on the board if the person is required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, because of the person's activities for compensation on behalf of a profession related to the operation of the board. (e) Members of the board: (1) serve without pay; and (2) are entitled to reimbursement for their actual expenses incurred in attending meetings of the board or attending to other work of the board if approved by the presiding officer. (f) Members of the board serve for staggered, six-year terms, with three members' terms expiring on August 31 of each odd-numbered year. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.045. POWERS AND DUTIES OF BOARD. (a) The board shall administer the fund and the two accounts in the fund. (b) The board shall prepare an annual report that: (1) details the revenues deposited to the credit of the fund, including each account; and (2) summarizes the grants and loans made from each account. (c) Not later than January 15 of each year, the board shall submit the report for the preceding year to the governor and to each standing committee in the senate and house of representatives that has jurisdiction over public or higher education. (d) The board may: (1) enter into contracts with state agencies or private entities necessary to perform the board's duties; (2) adopt rules as necessary to administer this subchapter; (3) employ personnel reasonably necessary to perform duties delegated by the board; (4) appoint one or more committees to assist the board in performing the board's duties; and (5) accept a gift or grant and use it for the purposes of this subchapter. (e) The board shall establish an assistance program to provide education concerning the telecommunications infrastructure fund and to facilitate access to funds and programs under this subchapter by health care facilities and by physicians licensed to practice medicine in this state. The assistance program must include a toll-free telephone number and provide access to information through the Internet. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(c), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1255, § 12, eff. June 15, 2001. § 57.0455. MASTER PLAN FOR INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT. (a) The board shall adopt a master plan for infrastructure development. The plan must: (1) cover a five-year period; (2) be updated annually; and (3) describe the project, timeline, and resource allocation targets for each year included in the plan. (b) The board shall publish each proposed amendment to the plan and each proposed annual update in the Texas Register in accordance with Subchapter B, Chapter 2002, Government Code. Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(d), eff. Sept. 1, 1999. § 57.046. USE OF ACCOUNTS. (a) The board shall use money in the public schools account to: (1) to the extent directed in the General Appropriations Act, fund the technology allotment under Section 32.005, Education Code; and (2) award grants and loans in accordance with this subchapter to fund: (A) equipment for public schools, including computers, printers, computer labs, and video equipment; and (B) intracampus and intercampus wiring to enable those public schools to use the equipment. (b) The board shall use money in the qualifying entities account for any purpose authorized by this subchapter, including: (1) equipment; (2) wiring; (3) material; (4) program development; (5) training; (6) installation costs; (7) a statewide telecommunications network; and (8) Expired. (c) Section 57.047(d) does not apply to the use of money in the public schools account for the purpose specified by Subsection (a)(1). (d) In addition to the purposes for which the qualifying entities account may be used, the board may use money in the account to award grants to the Health and Human Services Commission for technology initiatives of the commission. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(e), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1255, § 13, eff. June 15, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, § 2.140, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 201, § 59, eff. June 10, 2003; Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 728, § 21.002, eff. Sept. 1, 2005. § 57.047. GRANT AND LOAN PROGRAM. (a) The board may award a grant to a project or proposal that: (1) provides equipment and infrastructure necessary for: (A) distance learning; (B) an information sharing program of a library; (C) telemedicine medical services; (D) telehealth services; or (E) a telepharmacy system; (2) develops and implements the initial or prototypical delivery of a course or other distance learning material; (3) trains teachers, faculty, librarians, or technicians in the use of distance learning or information sharing materials and equipment; (4) develops a curriculum or instructional material specially suited for telecommunications delivery; (5) provides electronic information; or (6) establishes or carries out an information sharing program. (b) The board may award a loan to a project or proposal to acquire equipment needed for distance learning and telemedicine medical service projects. (c) In awarding a grant or loan under this subchapter, the board shall give priority to a project or proposal that: (1) represents collaborative efforts involving more than one school, university, or library; (2) contributes matching funds from another source; (3) shows promise of becoming self-sustaining; (4) helps users of information learn new ways to acquire and use information through telecommunications; (5) extends specific educational information and knowledge services to a group not previously served, especially a group in an economically depressed, rural, or remote area; (6) results in more efficient or effective learning than through conventional teaching; (7) improves the effectiveness and efficiency of health care delivery; (8) takes advantage of distance learning opportunities in a rural or urban school district with a: (A) disproportionate number of at-risk youths; or (B) high dropout rate; or (9) assists the community telecommunications alliance program created under Subchapter O, Chapter 487, Government Code. (d) In distributing money to public schools, the board shall: (1) consider the relative property wealth per student of the school districts that receive the money; and (2) recognize the unique needs of rural communities. (e) If a board member is an employee of an entity that applies for a grant or loan under this subchapter, the board member, before a vote on the grant or loan, shall disclose the fact of the member's employment. The disclosure must be entered into the minutes of the meeting. The board member may not vote on or otherwise participate in the awarding of the grant or loan. If the board member does not comply with this subsection, the entity is not eligible for the grant or loan. (f) A grant or loan awarded under this section is subject to the limitations prescribed by Section 57.046. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(f), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 959, § 7, eff. June 14, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1255, § 14, eff. June 15, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1220, § 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1151, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1276, § 17.002, eff. Sept. 1, 2003. § 57.0471. GRANTS TO CERTAIN HEALTH CARE FACILITIES. (a) A physician, health care professional, or health care facility providing telemedicine medical services or telehealth services and participating in a pilot program under Section 531.02171, Government Code, is eligible to receive a grant under Section 57.047. (b) The physician, health care professional, or health care facility providing telemedicine medical services or telehealth services and participating in a pilot program under Section 531.02171, Government Code, is not eligible to receive private network services under Section 58.253(a), except with respect to a project that would have been eligible to be funded by the telecommunications infrastructure fund under this subchapter as it existed on January 1, 2001. Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 661, § 2, eff. June 13, 2001; Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 959, § 8, eff. June 14, 2001. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1276, § 17.003, eff. Sept. 1, 2003. § 57.0475. ELIGIBILITY FOR GRANTS TO HEALTH CARE FACILITIES. (a) The board may award a grant under Section 57.047(a)(1)(C) only to a health care facility that: (1) is a hospital or other entity, including a health clinic, that: (A) is supported by local or regional tax revenue; (B) is a certified nonprofit health corporation under federal law; or (C) is an ambulatory health care center; or (2) meets the criteria adopted by the board and the Health and Human Services Commission under Subsection (b). (b) The board and the Health and Human Services Commission shall jointly adopt rules prescribing the criteria a health care facility not described by Subsection (a)(1) must meet to be eligible to receive a grant under Section 57.047(a)(1)(C). In determining the criteria, the board and commission shall prioritize health care facilities based on: (1) the amount of charity care provided by each facility during the year preceding the year in which the facility applies for a grant; and (2) the number of Medicaid patients and patients enrolled in the state child health plan treated by each facility during the year preceding the year in which the facility applies for a grant. (c) The criteria adopted under Subsection (b) must provide that a health care facility is not eligible to receive a grant under Section 57.047(a)(1)(C) if the health care facility did not provide any charity care or treat any patients described by Subsection (b)(2) during the year preceding the year in which the facility applies for a grant. Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1255, § 15, eff. June 15, 2001. § 57.048. ASSESSMENTS AND COLLECTIONS. (a) An annual assessment is imposed on each telecommunications utility and each commercial mobile service provider doing business in this state. (b) The assessment is imposed at the rate of 1.25 percent of the taxable telecommunications receipts of the telecommunications utility or commercial mobile service provider, subject to this section. (c) Repealed by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 899, § 9.04. (d) Repealed by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 899, § 9.04. (e) The comptroller may require a telecommunications utility or commercial mobile service provider to provide any report or information necessary to fulfill the comptroller's duties under this section. Information provided to the comptroller under this section is confidential and exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. (f) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a certificated telecommunications utility may recover from the utility's customers an assessment imposed on the utility under this subchapter after the total amount deposited to the credit of the fund, excluding interest and loan repayments, is equal to $1.5 billion, as determined by the comptroller. A certificated telecommunications utility may recover only the amount of the assessment imposed after the total amount deposited to the credit of the fund, excluding interest and loan repayments, is equal to $1.5 billion, as determined by the comptroller. The utility may recover the assessment through a monthly billing process. (g) The comptroller shall publish in the Texas Register the date on which the total amount deposited to the credit of the fund, excluding interest and loan repayments, is equal to $1.5 billion. (h) Not later than February 15 of each year, a certificated telecommunications utility that wants to recover the assessment under Subsection (f) shall file with the commission an affidavit or affirmation stating the amount that the utility paid to the comptroller under this section during the previous calendar year and the amount the utility recovered from its customers in cumulative payments during that year. (i) The commission shall maintain the confidentiality of information the commission receives under this section that is claimed to be confidential for competitive purposes. The confidential information is exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(g), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 201, § 60, eff. June 10, 2003; Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 899, § 9.01, 9.04, eff. Sept. 1, 2005. § 57.0485. ALLOCATION OF REVENUE. The comptroller shall deposit the money collected by the comptroller under Section 57.048 to the credit of the general revenue fund. Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.09(g), eff. Sept. 1, 1999. Amended by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 899, § 9.02, eff. Sept. 1, 2005. § 57.049. ISSUANCE OF WARRANTS. From money appropriated to the board, the comptroller shall issue warrants the board requests in accordance with the purposes of this subchapter, including warrants to grantees of the board in amounts the board certifies to the comptroller. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.050. ASSISTANCE OF OTHER AGENCIES. The following agencies, in consultation with the board, shall adopt policies and procedures that are designed to aid the board in achieving the purposes of this subchapter: (1) the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; (2) the Texas Education Agency; and (3) the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.051. SUNSET PROVISION. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund is subject to Chapter 325, Government Code (Texas Sunset Act). Unless continued in existence as provided by that chapter, this subchapter expires September 1, 2011. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 18.10(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 899, § 9.03, eff. Sept. 1, 2005.
SUBCHAPTER D. INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA COMMUNICATIONS
§ 57.071. DEFINITION. In this subchapter, "interactive multimedia communications" means real-time, two-way, interactive voice, video, and data communications conducted over networks that link geographically dispersed locations. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. § 57.072. RATES FOR INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA COMMUNICATIONS. (a) The commission shall permit a local exchange company that provides an interactive multimedia communications service to establish, using sound ratemaking principles, rates necessary to recover costs associated with providing the service. (b) A local exchange company may not establish a rate under Subsection (a) that is less than the local exchange company's long run incremental costs of providing the interactive multimedia communications service, unless the commission determines it to be in the public interest to do so. Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 166, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

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