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Assembly Panel Approved Kennedy & Benson Bill Protecting State, Local Agencies from Unwarranted Disruption of Utility Service

Bill Sponsored in Response to Incident at Union County Office
Whose Internet Service Was Mistakenly Disconnected

(TRENTON) – Requiring a 5-day utility shut-off notice to state and local agencies, a bill sponsored by Assemblymen Jim Kennedy and Daniel Benson recently advanced out of the Assembly Telecommunications Committee.

Earlier this year, internet service to the Union County Public Safety Complex was wrongfully discontinued by their provider. The public safety department dispatches emergency calls from municipalities within the county. They were unable to reach first responders and receive real-time updates from emergency personnel during the time the service was disconnected.

“This is just one of many essential services that need to be available day or night,” said Kennedy (D- Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “The lines of communication in an emergency situation need to remain open, and this piece of legislation would ensure that agencies are given ample time to receive notice and not be terminated.”

“An unexpected disconnection of utilities for any state or local government entity, especially for those who maintain our public safety, disrupts the services residents rely on daily,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Advance notice gives agencies every opportunity to make sure their utility service and their services are not interrupted.”

This bill (A-3929) would require certain telecommunications, cable television, and public utility service providers to notify a board of education, local government unit, or State agency of any pending service discontinuance due to an unpaid bill. Notification would be received in writing, by certified or registered mail, at least five business days prior to the discontinuance.

The bill was released by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee on Monday October 22.