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Washington Governor Signs Net Neutrality Bill, Oregon On Deck

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Washington state lawmakers and other supporters surround Gov. Jay Inslee at a net neutrality bill signing ceremony in Olympia Monday.


Your internet service should be free of slow lanes and corporate favoritism if legislation just signed in Washington state and awaiting the governor's signature in Oregon works as intended. The states' objectives were to block a federal rollback of Obama-era net neutrality rules.

A bipartisan majority of the Washington Legislature approved state standards for internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and CenturyLink. The new rules forbid internet companies from creating slow lanes, blocking legal apps or charging to prioritize certain traffic.

At a bill signing ceremony in Olympia Monday, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee claimed the federal regulatory rollback "catered to some corporate interests."

"This is a perfect example of why you need states' assistance when you've had the federal government walk off the job and go to the donut shop,” Inslee said. “That's what they've done."

Inslee said he's confident the states are within their rights to regulate internet service even though the FCC says no.

The Oregon Legislature last week passed a more narrowly drafted measure to require companies doing business with state and local government to adhere to net neutrality. ?Telecom companies say a patchwork of state laws would be untenable for interstate internet traffic.

Inslee's office said Washington is the first state to pass its own law to protect net neutrality. ?The FCC's new rules are not expected to go into effect until later this spring. Washington state's measure will take effect in mid-June. ?

The state governments of New York, Montana, New Jersey, Vermont, California and Hawaii have sought to counteract the FCC deregulation with executive orders that set net neutrality principles for contracting of internet service, similar to Oregon's approach. ?

Separately, 21 states, including Washington and Oregon, have filed a petition to appeal the FCC’s action in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in another attempt to block the repeal of the federal net neutrality rules. Members of Congress have also made noises about reimposing federal net neutrality rules, but their efforts are not moving very fast.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.