Legislation would help churches' phone expenses

October 24, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - A bill has been filed in Frankfort that would require telephone companies to charge churches the same rates charged to residential customers.

Currently churches pay the business rate, which can be significantly higher than the residential rate. Rep. Lonnie Napier, R-Lancaster, filed the bill this week in Frankfort.

"A business' phone bill is much higher than a residential bill," said Napier, who believes he will have support for the measure among other state lawmakers during the 2004 General Assembly. Louisiana and Ohio have similar laws, he said.

Napier expects to get the support of the Kentucky Council of Churches and believes the next governor, regardless of who he is, will accept it as well.


"I really think a church is not a business," said Napier. "They're not there to make a profit."

Some non-profit organizations, which is essentially what a church is, Napier said, are not charged the business phone rate.

"This will have no impact on the state budget," he said. "But it will have a big impact on corporations."

Lobbyists from telephone companies have not contacted him, but Napier believes they will soon.

"They have some high paid lobbyists that will want to see me, I'm sure," he said. The bill will be hard to oppose, Napier believes.

"I hope the churches will get behind this. I think it is really needed. A lot of small churches are struggling."

This is the third piece of legislation Napier has filed for next year's session. One other would classify a marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, and the other, filed in June, would require health departments to notify parents when their children seek care that currently does not require parental notification, such as when minors request birth control or seek treatment for a sexually transmitted disease. Napier admits the first two bills will be controversial.

"It will make a lot of news," he said.

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