If FCC Commissioner Michael Copps starts singing "Let the Sunshine In," it won't be a senior 60's moment.
Reps Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Mike
Doyle (D-Pa.) have introduced a bill, the Federal Communications Commission
Collaboration Act, that would allow more than two commissioners to meet
privately outside of public meetings.
The bill would allow three or more Commissioners to meet for
"collaborative discussions," so long as no agency actions were taken
at the meetings and so long as a member of each political party was a party to
the discussions, which, in this case, would mean no meeting among the three
Democrats making up the majority.
The FCC's sunshine rules currently prevent that, so negotiations
on items and issues are often through staffers and e-mails. Copps has been
a long and strong voice for allowing commissioners to reason together outside
of public meetings.
"The FCC has the responsibility to tackle the nation's most
pressing communications issues, from spectrum reform to universal service and
public safety," sid Eshoo in a statement. "But the Closed
Meeting Rule prevents simple collaboration or discussion of these issues,
outside of a formal setting. I'm pleased to introduce legislation to modify
this restrictive rule to promote greater discussion among the five FCC
Commissioners so they can benefit from each other's expertise and experience."
"I am thrilled that Congresswoman Anna Eshoo,
Congressman John Shimkus, and Congressman Mike Doyle have introduced the
Federal Communications Commission Collaboration Act," said Copps in a
statement. "If there is only one action we could take this year to reform
the FCC, this should be it."
"The inability of Commissioners to get together and talk as
a group makes zero sense," Copps said. "The statutory bar on
more than two Commissioners talking together outside a public meeting has had
pernicious and unintended consequences-stifling collaborative discussions among
colleagues, delaying timely decision-making, discouraging collegiality and
short-changing consumers and the public interest. For almost a decade I
have seen first-hand and up close the heavy costs of this prohibition."