Bills to allow three or more commissioners to meet in
private, so long as they don't take any official agency actions, are being reintroduced
in the House and Senate.
Current sunshine rules prevent more than two commissioners
from meeting in a nonpublic setting.
According to a joint announcement, Reps. Anna Eshoo
(D-Calif.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) have already
reintroduced a House version, with a Senate version being introduced on
Thursday by Sens. Amy Klobuchar ((D-Minn.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). That was
among a number of FCC reform bills that did not pass last Congress, but it was
the most bipartisan of that bunch and could have a good chance at passage.
"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 Eshoo, who is the ranking member of the
Communications 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."
Eshoo has been a driving force behind the bill, which is
supported by the FCC commissioners and was a long-time issue for former acting
chair Michael Copps, who often bemoaned having to work through staffers to
communicate with more than one other commissioner on important issues. He
suggested the change could lead for greater collaboration.
"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 Shimkus in a statement.