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Kansas telecom overhaul close to final passage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas legislators are close to passing legislation reducing state regulation of telecommunications while beginning to phase out state subsidies for telecom firms.

The Wichita Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/ZfjTWJ ) the Senate voted 37-3 on Thursday for a compromise version of the bill reconciling differences with the House.

Passage by the House would send the measure to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Under the bill, some telecommunications firms could avoid minimum service quality standards or having to provide land-line service to all customers.

But the bill also reduces the subsidies for universal land-line service financed through a charge on customers' bills.

Affected companies include AT&T Inc. The state's largest phone service provider pushed for the measure.

Critics say the bill will hurt consumers. Backers say competition will protect customers.