Communications subcommittee acting on FCC reform to bill


The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, under the gavel of Greg Walden (R-OR), is ready to take on FCC reform. It will mark up two related bills designed to rein in the agency on Wednesday 11/16/11.

The session will kick off at 9AM eastern, and will address two legislative items:

* H.R. 3309, the “Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2011”
* R. 3310, the “Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2011.”

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Dean Heller (R-NV).

From an earlier subcommittee release, here are the major issues addressed by the legislation:

Legislative Summary
Protecting Jobs by Ensuring Regulatory Benefits Outweigh Costs
* Require the Commission to survey the state of the marketplace through a Notice of Inquiry before initiating new rulemakings to ensure the Commission has an up-to-date understanding of the rapidly evolving and job-creating telecommunications marketplace.
* Require the Commission to identify a market failure, consumer harm, or regulatory barrier to investment before adopting economically significant rules. After identifying such an issue, the Commission must demonstrate that the benefits of regulation outweigh the costs while taking into account the need for regulation to impose the least burden on society.
* Require the Commission to establish performance measures for all program activities so that when the Commission spends hundreds of millions of federal or consumer dollars, Congress and the public have a straightforward means of seeing what bang we’re getting for our buck.
* Apply to the Commission, an independent agency, the regulatory reform principles that President Obama endorsed in his January 2011 Executive Order.
* Prevent regulatory overreach by requiring any conditions imposed on transactions to be within the Commission’s existing authority and be tailored to transaction-specific harms.

Promoting Transparency, Fairness, and Efficiency in Commission Operations
* Enhance consistency and transparency in the Commission’s operations by requiring the FCC to establish and disclose its own internal procedures for:
** adequate review and deliberation regarding pending orders,
** publication of orders before open meetings,
** initiation of items by bipartisan majorities, and
** minimum public review periods for statistical reports and ex parte communications.
* Require the FCC to establish its own “shot clocks” so that parties know how quickly they can expect action in certain proceedings and provide a schedule for when reports would be released.
* Empower the Commission to operate more efficiently through reform of the “sunshine” rules, allowing a bipartisan majority of Commissioners to meet for collaborative discussions subject to transparency safeguards.

Simplifying Reporting Requirements
* Consolidate eight, separate congressionally mandated reports on the communications industry into a single comprehensive report with a focus on intermodal competition, deploying communications capabilities to unserved communities, and eliminating regulatory barriers.