Congress, Senate Try Again With 'FCC Collaboration Act'
February 7, 2013 at 4:00 AM (PT)
A bill has once again been introduced in Congress to allow more than two FCC Commissioners to meet outside of open meetings to allow them to collaborate without falling afoul of the Commission's "sunshine rules." The "Federal Communications Commission Collaboration Act of 2013," similar to bills proposed in previous sessions of Congress, is being sponsored by Reps. ANNA ESHOO, JOHN SHIMKUS, and MIKE DOYLE in the House and Sens. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) and DEAN HELLER in the Senate.
FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI commended the sponsors and said, "Whether it is Congress or state commissions, companies or consumers, we at the FCC hear a common refrain: our processes need reform. In particular, we have heard that—to quote the Act—'[n]umerous regulatory matters have been pending before the Commission for years, and continued inaction on these issues has the potential to hinder innovation and private investment in the domestic communications industry.' We must be as nimble as the communications industry we oversee. The FCC Collaboration Act would help us do that by allowing greater interaction among the Commissioners. We could respond better and more quickly to everyone with business before the FCC, from broadcasters in ILLINOIS to technology companies in CALIFORNIA. The Act also would help us meet deadlines set by Congress and the shot clocks we set for ourselves. Finally, the FCC Collaboration Act would facilitate a more fruitful dialogue about the potential costs and benefits of Commission action."
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGULATORY UTILITY COMMISSIONERS also issued a supportive statement, saying that "NARUC has endorsed this significant and much needed improvement to the current process for years and hope it will become law as soon as possible. The FCC’s existing sunshine rules, while well intended, make it difficult for FCC commissioners to deliberate on the complex issues before it. The FCC Collaboration Act is an important step forward in better positioning the agency to meet the nation’s communications challenges ahead.”