• Saving net neutrality in Washington state to be difficult, complex battle

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Under the net neutrality rules abolished Thursday, internet service providers could not block, slow down or give priority to internet service based on who they don't like or who is willing to pay extra.

    Governor Inslee and state Lawmakers say they'll pass a law to keep net neutrality in Washington.

    "I have a bill to fix this, it's House Bill 2282. It would ensure under the state's consumer protection authority that Washington consumers are still protected by this set of rules,” said Rep. Drew Hansen of Bainbridge Island.

    But is this a battle Washington state can win against the federal government?

    Former Attorney General Rob McKenna says it’s a close call. “It's really hard to say because there really isn't any case law on the question. There isn't that much case law about when the FCC pre-empts states and when it doesn't,” he said.

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    Winning the net neutrality case against the FCC will likely depend on what the state law does and how well it is written.

    “States have the ability to enact consumer protection laws. States and localities have the ability to regulate utility poles. What will hold up will depend on the specifics of what's actually written into it,” said Shankar Narayan of the ACLU of Washington.

    States have defeated FCC regulations in the past. But the Republican-controlled Congress might pass a law pre-empting the states.

    “We have this concept of federal supremacy over lawmaking,” McKenna said.

    Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson will likely have to defend any law the legislature passes in court. 

    He's already suing the FCC, charging that commissioners adopted the rule change without following the proper administrative procedures.

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