A fee of 84 cents a year on residential and business telephone service provides a “lifeline” for those in need who otherwise couldn’t afford a home telephone, but that plan – the Low-Income Telephone Assistance Program – was at risk of being eliminated.
AARP Colorado advocacy volunteers, led by Associate State Director for Advocacy Kelli Fritts and Executive Council Member Steve Merrill helped kill the bill, HB 1224, that would have eliminated LITAP.
“LITAP is a wonderful program,” said Merrill, who testified against the bill. “We have a lot of folks in need at this time with the recession and high unemployment. This is a valuable program and it’s been valuable since 1986.”
Last month, the Colorado House Transportation Committee held a hearing on the legislation. In addition to Merrill, two others testified in opposition. The bill failed to pass out of committee.
“This is a huge win for us – for low-income folks who need a telephone,” Fritts said. “It’s a fee of only 84 cents a year – less than a dollar – and it provides a lifeline for those in need.”
Telephone communication is a basic necessity, allowing older people to maintain social contact, preserve health and safety, and gain assistance in an emergency, and people age 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to have residential telephone lines, as opposed to cell phones. Many of these people live on fixed and low incomes, Fritts said.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs, referred to the fee as a tax, which it is not.
LITAP has been in existence 1986. Many of the states have similar plans and it’s a partnership with the federal Lifeline program. The revenues are received by a fee of 7 cents a month on business and residential lies and that generates the revenue to keep the program going. As of December 2009, more than 21,000 Coloradans had used the program.
Find more online from the AARP Public Policy Institute on Consumer Protection.