MML and Springfield challenge telecommunications bills, but new laws are in effect

The Missouri Municipal League, along with the City of Springfield and MML Deputy Director Richard Sheets, filed a lawsuit (Case No. 14AC-CC00445, Cole County) on August 26 challenging telecommunications industry-supported Senate Bill 649 (Rights-of-Way Management) and Senate Bill 650 (Zoning and Leasing of Wireless Facilities). The lawsuit challenges these bills on both constitutional procedural and substantive grounds. The 2014 bills readopt provisions from similar 2013 bills (HB 331 and HB 345) that were successfully invalidated by the Cities of Liberty, Gladstone, Lee’s Summit, Independence, Cameron, and Butler. The Missouri Supreme Court recently dismissed the State of Missouri’s appeal of that judgment, making the invalidation of these 2013 Bills final and un-appealable. However, unlike last year, there is no injunction preventing the 2014 Bills from going into effect. As such, both SB 649 and 650 are currently in effect and Missouri cities cannot ignore the bills’ provisions without legal risk. CVR is not involved in the 2014 litigation, so specific inquiries should be directed to the MML or City of Springfield. Cities should immediately consult with their City Attorney or other legal counsel to determine the impact and appropriate action plan in response to all of these bills relating (1) tower and antenna applications (2) tower leasing, (3) Row of permits and agreements (4) utility pole regulation, among other issues.