Section 11-50B-8

Meetings, hearings, etc., open to public; notice; petition; election; procedure.

(a) Actions of the governing body of a public provider relating to the provision of cable service or telecommunications service by the public provider, shall be taken in meetings open to the public consistent with any one or more of Sections 11-43-49, 11-43A-21, 11-44C-25, and 13A-14-2, as amended, respectively, or other similar statutory provisions, as shall otherwise govern meetings of the governing body of the affected public provider.

(b) Prior to the determination of the governing body of a public provider of cable service to commence furnishing cable service to subscribers in the exercise of authority granted under this chapter, the governing body of the public provider shall conduct a public hearing. Actual notice of the date, time, and place of the public hearing shall be given not less than 30 days prior thereto, to each private provider furnishing cable service in the municipality whose governing body is giving notice or in the municipality in which the municipal instrumentality whose governing body is giving notice was organized. Notice of the date, time, and place of the public hearing shall also be published at least once not less than 14 days prior to the date of the public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation published in the municipality whose governing body is giving notice or in the municipality in which the municipal instrumentality whose governing body is giving notice was organized or, if no newspaper of general circulation is published therein, in the county in which the municipality whose governing body is giving notice is located or the municipality in which the municipal instrumentality whose governing body is giving notice was organized is located, or if no newspaper of general circulation is published therein, in the newspaper of general circulation published nearest thereto or in an adjoining county. The notice of the public meeting also shall state that a petition, in the form and executed as provided herein, may be presented within 30 days of the date of publication of the notice by filing the same, in the case of a public provider of cable service that is a municipality, with the clerk of the municipality, and in the case of a public provider of cable service that is a municipal instrumentality, with the clerk of the municipality in which the municipal instrumentality was organized.

(c) The petition shall be in substantially the following form: "To the (herein insert the name of the governing body) of the municipality. We, the undersigned, qualified electors of the municipality respectfully petition that there should be submitted to a vote of the qualified electors of the municipality the following question: 'Shall the (herein insert the name of the municipality or municipal instrumentality) be authorized to acquire, establish, purchase, construct, maintain, lease, and operate a cable television system for the purpose of furnishing cable service to subscribers? Yes ( ) No ( ).'

(Signatures of electors)
____________________
____________________
(Residences by street and number)
_____________________
_____________________"

(d) The petition shall be signed by qualified electors of the municipality at least equal in number to five percent of the number of qualified electors of the municipality who voted in the general municipal election next preceding. One of the persons who presents and files the petition shall make an affidavit that the signatures on the petition are genuine signatures and that the persons who signed their names thereto are qualified electors of the municipality according to the published poll list.

(e) The probate judge of the county in which the municipality is located shall have summary jurisdiction upon complaint of an elector to determine the sufficiency of the petition and shall make such order as justice may require as to the sufficiency of the petition. A summary proceeding instituted hereunder shall be instituted within 10 days after the petition is filed with the clerk of the municipality.

(f) The clerk of the municipality shall give notice of the submission of the question by causing notice of the filing of the petition and the question to be submitted to be published at least once on the same day each week for three consecutive weeks in the same newspaper in which notice of the public meeting was given.

(g) If no petition shall have been filed with the clerk of the municipality within the time prescribed or, in case a summary proceeding has been instituted, a final order thereon has been made against the sufficiency of the petition, the governing body of the municipality may, in its discretion, determine whether to authorize the municipality's or municipal instrumentality's proceeding to acquire, establish, purchase, construct, maintain, lease, or operate a cable system.

(h) If the petition shall have been filed with the clerk of the municipality or, in case a summary proceeding has been instituted, a final order thereon has been made in favor of the sufficiency of the petition not more than 60 days and not less than 30 days prior to a previously scheduled general or special municipal election, the governing body of the municipality to which the petition is directed shall cause the question proposed by the petition to be duly submitted to a vote of the electors of the municipality at the previously scheduled general or special municipal election. If a petition shall not have been filed or, in case a summary proceeding has been instituted and a final order thereon has not been made in favor of the sufficiency of the petition so as to permit the question to be submitted at a previously scheduled general or special municipal election as provided herein, the governing body of the municipality to which the petition is directed shall at its next regular meeting succeeding the presentation of the petition or, in case a summary proceeding has been instituted, succeeding the date of a final order thereon in favor of the sufficiency of the petition, designate a day for the holding of a special election to ascertain the will of the electors regarding the question, which day shall be not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days from the date of the regular meeting.

(i) Unless otherwise provided in this section, the provisions of the election laws governing the conduct of municipal elections in the applicable municipality shall govern any election pursuant to this section. The governing body of the municipality is hereby authorized to appropriate and expend from moneys raised by taxation for the necessary expense of the special election.

(j) The question set forth in the petition shall be printed on the ballot. At the left of the question there shall be printed two voting squares, with the word "Yes" for voting for the question at the right of one square and the word "No" for voting against the question at the right of the other square.

(k) At the regular meeting of the governing body of the municipality next succeeding the completion of the canvass and the statement and proclamation of result, the governing body of the municipality shall adopt a resolution setting forth the question submitted at the election, the number of votes cast for the question and the number of votes cast against the question. If the number of votes cast for the question exceeds the number of votes cast against the question at the election, in the case of a public provider that is a municipality, the governing body of the municipality, and in the case of a public provider that is a municipal instrumentality, the governing body of the municipal instrumentality, may, in its discretion, determine whether to acquire, establish, purchase, construct, maintain, lease, or operate a cable system. If the number of votes cast against the question exceeds the number of votes cast for the question at the election, the public provider shall not be authorized to acquire, establish, purchase, construct, maintain, lease, or operate a cable system. Nothing contained herein shall, however, preclude a municipal governing body's again giving notice of a public hearing relating to the municipality's or municipal instrumentality's commencing furnishing cable service to subscribers, recommencing thereby the process delineated herein, nor shall there be any limit to the number of times a municipal governing body may give notice of a public hearing in the manner provided herein, recommencing thereby the process of public hearing, possible petition and election provided herein.

(l) Prior to the determination of the governing body of a public provider of telecommunications service to commence furnishing telecommunications service in the exercise of authority granted under this chapter, the governing body of the public provider shall conduct a public hearing. Notice of the date, time, and place of the public hearing shall be published at least once not less than 14 days prior to the date of the public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation published in the municipality whose governing body is giving the notice or in the municipality in which the municipal instrumentality whose governing body is giving notice was organized or, if no newspaper of general circulation is published therein, in the county in which the municipality whose governing body is giving the notice is located or the municipality in which the municipal instrumentality whose governing body is giving notice was organized is located, or if no newspaper of general circulation is published therein, in the newspaper of general circulation published nearest thereto or in an adjoining county.

(m) In addition, the governing body of each municipality in which a public provider is furnishing cable service to subscribers in the exercise of authority granted under this chapter shall cause to be given to each private provider of cable service authorized to furnish cable service within the municipality, no less than seven days' actual notice of each meeting of the governing body at which action relating to service rules and regulations for providers of cable service or rates for cable service is to be taken. The governing body of each municipality in which a public provider is furnishing telecommunications service in the exercise of authority granted under this chapter also shall cause to be given to each private provider of telecommunications service within the municipality, actual notice of each meeting of the governing body at which action relating to the rates and charges of the public provider of telecommunications service for the provision of telecommunications service is to be taken. Actual notice to private providers of cable service or to private providers of telecommunications service, as the case may be, as provided herein shall be given by certified mail addressed to their last known addresses.

(Act 2000-614, p. 1235, §8.)