St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Bush signs billboard compensation bill into law
  • Study hints at decade of gains for manatees
  • Bush disavows group, tactics
  • Supreme Court rules against appraiser
  • Religion, class size stir up school bill
  • Battling sides unite over phone bill subsidy plan
  • Press a state stamp on your next letter
  • Fuel leak postpones shuttle launch

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
  • tampabay.com

    printer version

    Battling sides unite over phone bill subsidy plan

    By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 5, 2002

    TALLAHASSEE -- In the midst of a feud over raising phone rates, the battling sides appeared to come together Thursday to launch a program to recruit low-income Floridians into a program to subsidize their bills.

    AARP, other consumer groups and phone companies touted the merits of the Lifelink program, now used by only 134,000 of the nearly 1-million eligible in the state for discounted phone installation and monthly bills.

    AARP kicked off a national campaign outside the Capitol to get the word out about Lifelink. Also planned are neighborhood canvassing efforts, fliers, posters and mailings to 55,000 potentially eligible households.

    "Everybody should have access to quality telephone service at affordable prices," said Charlie Mendoza, AARP national board member. "For many people, including many older persons -- and especially those who are shut in -- the telephone is an essential link to the outside world."

    The Thursday launch has been in the making for a year, coincidentally taking place as consumer groups and phone companies are at odds over a bill to raise monthly bills for local service that is now in the hands of Gov. Jeb Bush.

    Supporters of the proposal, which would increase bills in the Tampa Bay area as much as $5 during the next five years, contend the increase would be offset by cheaper long distance charges within Florida. But consumer advocates worry that people who have only basic phone service and rarely call long distance would end up paying more.

    Consumers, reacting to weeks of negative publicity and editorials in newspapers throughout the state, have sent more than 1,000 e-mails and letters and made hundreds of calls to Bush.

    The bill (HB 1683) calls for more low-income Floridians to be eligible for Lifelink, which provides for a monthly discount of $12 for local phone charges and up to $30 for installation.

    Legislators tout the bill as consumer-friendly because it would make Lifelink available to 250,000 more people in Florida and would help contact them to let them know this program is available.

    Consumer advocates claim it would only marginally raise the number of people who are eligible.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan


    From the Times state desk