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Lawmakers put a bill on hold that would raise phone rates

Legislation that would increase telephone rates by $30 million was put on hold Friday after lawmakers were told by witnesses not to meddle in utility regulation.

After a second session of testimony, the House Public Utilities and Technology Standing Committee voted to hold HB263 until a compromise could be reached on the proposal pushed by US WEST.The phone company turned to the Legislature after the Public Service Commission last month rejected a request to remove revenue generated by its Yellow Pages directory from the formula used to calculate phone rates.

The commission said rate payers had a historical interest in the phone directory business, although the directory is published by a separate company. By removing the Yellow Pages revenue, phone rates would go up $30 million, or $2.68 a month, not including taxes.

"The Legislature will be responsible for raising rates and the tax burden," said Betsy Wolf for the Salt Lake Community Action Program.

The committee voted 7-5 to hold the bill until a competing proposal is introduced by Rep. Marty Stephens, R-Farr West.