After residents of DeKalb County, Georgia actively opposed plans by T-Mobile and AT&T to build telecommunications towers on the grounds of eight local public schools, Georgia State Representative Karla Drenner stepped up to the plate to help out. Rep. Drenner introduced HB 1197, “Cell Phone Towers in DeKalb County,” that would ban placing cellphone towers on public school grounds unless the cellular carrier can show that there is an absolute need for the tower, and that the location sought on school grounds is the only location that can adequately provide service to satisfy that need. Sixteen out of 18 DeKalb County representatives signed on to support the local bill. Support for the measure crossed political, racial and geographic lines. Citizens in favor of the bill also got support from all of their county commissioners and collected over 1,200 signatures on petitions supporting the measure — an admirable number considering Chuck Sims’ represents a county of only 380 people. A legislative committee heard three hours of testimony about the bill over three days at three separate state hearings, and not one person showed up to say they were in favor of plans to put the towers on school grounds. With support like that, the bill should have passed easily through the committee and moved to the House floor. But it didn’t. Why? Because the committee was headed by State Rep. Chuck Sims (R) of Ambrose, Georgia, a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is heavily financed by telecomm companies and which puts legislators in close touch with telecomm lobbyists. After the lobbyists showed up at the hearing, Sims declared the bill illegal under the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1966, even though similar legislation has been passed in California and New York. According to witnesses at the hearing, Sims then met with his “advisors” and then produced a non-binding resolution that tried to trick voters into saying they want the towers on school grounds, despite zoning regulations in place to protect the citizens’ health and property values. Parents are concerned about locating cell phone towers on school grounds because the towers contain hazardous materials known to catch fire, and cell towers occasionally fall over. Workers who climb the towers to maintain them fall or become injured frequently enough that cell tower climbing has been called one of the “deadliest jobs in the United States.” The rate of accidents among cell tower workers is higher than the injury rates for coal miners, offshore fisherman or loggers. Between one and four cell phone tower climbers die every month. Cell phone towers also require backup power sources that typically involve gas, diesel or propane-powered generators, with accompanying fuel tanks or batteries that contain large amounts of sulfuric acid, another safety hazard.