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Washington -- Telephone companies and their customers in Wyoming and across the nation will save millions of dollars if legislation passed by the Senate last night authored by U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., becomes law.

Enzi, an accountant by trade, submitted an amendment to the Commerce, State and Justice Appropriations bill that would eliminate an added layer of accounting bureaucracy required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for local exchange telephone companies. His amendment passed 52-45.

"The elimination of this requirement could save a small local telephone exchange company between $200,000 to $1 million per year, according to study by the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson," said Enzi. "American telephone customers pay an estimated $300 million for this accounting method. This is money that could be spent on bringing advanced services and technology to rural areas or reducing rates. I understand how expensive it is just to maintain one set of business records according to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices), let alone two different sets of records according to two different methods. From Silver Star Communications in Freedom to TCT West in Worland, Wyoming companies and their customers will benefit from this legislation."

Since 1935 the FCC has required telephone companies to maintain detailed records and depreciate every asset they purchase from paperclips to trucks according to complicated, negotiated schedules. The antiquated system, the Uniform System of Accounts, was put in place to regulate AT&T before its breakup and the opening of the market to competition. Enzi's amendment would eliminate this system and allow companies to maintain their records according to GAAP, the same system required by the IRS and Securities Exchange Commission.

The appropriations bill to which Enzi's amendment is attached passed by an unrecorded voice vote. Now the bill will go to a joint Senate-House conference committee for reconciliation between the two different versions and then it will be voted on by each house again and passed on to the president for his signature.