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Barton, Stearns Introduce FCC Reform Bill

Here's an idea: Let the public see proposed rules before the commission adopts them

U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., today introduced H.R. 2183, a bill to reform some of the Federal Communications Commission’s regulatory processes.

Calling the agency’s current processes “byzantine,” the pair said “the FCC should let the public see proposed rules before it adopts them, and should provide everyone with a realistic amount of time to comment.” The measure requires the FCC to provide at least 30 days for comments and 30 days for replies on published language of proposed rules.

Also, under the bill the FCC would have 30 days from adoption of a policy to release the actual text of the decision.

These items are in line with what has already been supported by all three current commissioners — although one item bears scrutiny.

Barton and Stearns want to require the agency to publish weekly the items “circulating” around the eighth floor for a vote, and “name any commissioner” who hasn’t voted on the item, according to the bill.

While it’s a good idea to let the sun shine more on the agency’s processes, I don’t see the last bit about calling out those who haven’t voted on an item flying. I predict there’s only so far “openness” will go.