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Twilight has fallen on the battle to reform Texas' telecom laws, and long-distance telephone companies captured a small piece of territory.
After passing Texas' House of Representatives, a bill opening Texas' local telephone markets to competition just passed a Senate committee, where a small - yet significant - change was made. The committee passed the bill on May 9, adding language that allows AT&T Co. and MCI Communications Corp. to compete in Texas' local telephone market without any strings attached when and if Southwestern Bell gains the right to enter the long-distance arena.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill around May 12.
Long-distance telephone companies such as AT&T and MCI furiously worked to convince Senate members to rewrite parts of the telecom bill. Amendments addressing their concerns - the strict requirements forcing long-distance companies to build extensive telephone networks and the high access fees Southwestern Bell charges when it transfers a long-distance telephone call to a local number - failed during previous Senate committee votes.
"It's a good indication that …