Del. Mary Ann Lisanti’s (D-Harford) pariah status within the House of Delegates may have the important side effect of aiding cell-phone company efforts to get a favored bill passed.
Expansion of 5G networks requires small cell phone towers going into neighborhoods. Del. Dereck Davis (D-Prince George’s), the Chair of the Economic Matter Committee, has sponsored the bill favored by business. Lisanti, who also served on Economic Matters until losing her committee assignments, sponsored the more progressive and neighborhood-oriented bill.
One key difference between the bills is that Davis’s would preempt all local laws, while Lisanti’s would grandfather in all existing local laws on the installation of small wireless facilities. Another important difference is that Davis’s bill bans the collection of any fees from wireless providers, but the competing legislation would allow collection of a surcharge of up to 1% of revenues in order to provide wireless to underserved areas around the State.
Prior to Lisanti’s censorship by the House for use of a hateful racial epithet, her bill was gaining more traction than Davis’s. While Davis’s bill has no cosponsors, Lisanti’s has 17 with seven sitting on the Economic Matters Committee. While Lisanti’s bill did not have a public majority of the committee yet, her bill presented an unusually strong challenge to the one favored by the Chair.
Unless another delegate is willing to take up the lead in fighting for the bill, including facing off against a powerful committee chair, Dereck’s more conservative legislation may prevail thanks to Lisanti’s exclusion. Davis and the cell-phone industry look to notch up a victory as the neighborhood-oriented legislation is collateral damage to Lisanti’s fall.