|Bipartisan Legislation to Modify FCC 'Sunshine' Rule Reintroduced in Congress|
|Wednesday, 06 February 2013 17:01|
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Bipartisan legislation to promote collaboration and streamline decision-making at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was reintroduced in Congress today. The FCC Collaboration Act was reintroduced in the House by Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), and will be introduced in the Senate tomorrow by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). The legislation seeks to modify the Commission's "Sunshine" Rule so that three or more Commissioners can hold non-public collaborative discussions, as long as no agency action is taken. Currently, the rule prohibits more than two FCC Commissioners from talking to each other outside of an official public meeting.
"If the FCC is expected to tackle some of the nation's most pressing communications issues, Commissioners must have the ability to communicate freely," said Rep. Eshoo, Ranking Member on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. "Simple collaboration, discussion of issues, and shared expertise outside an official setting are essential in order for the Commission to keep up with the rapidly changing telecommunications landscape."
"I have always been a supporter of ending this ridiculous FCC rule. Allowing Commissioners to talk to one another will only lead to better and more efficient work being done at the FCC, not the other way around," said Rep. Shimkus.
"We've got to give our FCC Commissioners and Joint Board Members a chance to get together in private in a bipartisan fashion to discuss important matters," said Rep. Doyle. "Public settings such as the FCC Open Meetings provide an important way for the public to learn about the FCC's actions, but they don't let Commissioners deliberate directly at length the tough communications issues facing the Commission."
"Improving our country's communications infrastructure is critical to our economy and to our public safety," said Senator Klobuchar. "This bill will go a long way to make the FCC more efficient and effective so they can continue to work to advance the technological innovations that keep the U.S. competitive."
"This common-sense legislation will encourage discussion and cooperation among FCC Commissioners, and allow for the agency to be more responsive to a rapidly changing marketplace. While the Sunshine Act is well-intended, a simple modification is needed to encourage progress as the agency faces decisions across a wide array of industries. I look forward to working with Senator Klobuchar to advance this bipartisan legislation in the United States Senate, and with Representatives Eshoo and Shimkus to enact this bill into law," said Senator Heller.
The "Sunshine" Rule especially impedes the work of the FCC at Federal-State Joint Board meetings because only two Commissioners are allowed to participate at any one time. FCC Commissioners ultimately rotate through the meetings, resulting in sporadic engagement and limited progress.
The text of the legislation can be found here.
|Thomas Bill Search|