Norquist: Local Internet projects are 'none of the FCC's business'

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist wants federal regulators to stay out of state legislative battles over Internet competition.

In a statement on Wednesday, Norquist pushed back against the Federal Communications Commission's plans to intervene in places where state laws prevent local governments from creating Internet networks.

"The FCC should not waste valuable time and taxpayer dollars in futile legal wrangling," he said.

"It’s none of the FCC’s business if state governments forbid cities from wasting taxpayer dollars."

Norquist pointed to a pledge from the National Conference of State Legislatures — which represents state officials — to "take the FCC to court to stop any attempt by the commission to preempt state regulation of taxpayer-funded broadband networks."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said earlier this year that he plans to pre-empt state laws that ban municipal broadband projects in the hopes of boosting competition among Internet providers.

The agency is currently reviewing petitions from community broadband projects in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C.

Norquist's comments come as the FCC's plans, to pre-empt state law, gain political attention.

While Democrats on Capitol Hill have pushed Wheeler to pre-empt state laws, congressional Republicans have pushed back. 

On Wednesday, Matthew Berry — chief of staff for FCC Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai — gave a speech warning Wheeler that his plan to pre-empt state law would face an uphill battle.