Archive:May 13, 2011

House Committee Majority Staff Proposes Structural Changes to FCC

House Committee Majority Staff Proposes Structural Changes to FCC

With all five FCC Commissioners scheduled to appear before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today, the majority staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce released a memorandum proposing significant changes to the FCC’s operating procedures.  According to the memorandum, the proposed reforms will streamline the Commission’s rulemaking processes and provide for more public input before the agency renders its decisions.  A few of the key proposals recommended in the memorandum include:

1.      Requiring the FCC to initiate all rulemaking proceedings with a notice of inquiry instead of a notice of proposed rulemaking. This mandatory prerequisite before the FCC could propose rules would require more deliberation by the agency before it adopts final rules.

2.      Obligating the FCC to publish the text of proposed rules for public comment before adopting any final rule.  In addition, agenda items scheduled for a vote by the FCC would be published in advance of any agency meeting.

3.      Establishing minimum comment and review periods for all proposed rules.  The FCC would also be required to render rulemaking decisions by set deadlines.

4.      Allowing a bipartisan majority of FCC Commissioners to set agenda items for consideration.  This proposal would replace the current process where the FCC Chairman holds the initial power to designate an agenda item for consideration. This proposal could also have the effect of requiring a supermajority of Commissioners to approve agenda items (although FCC Commissioner votes do not always fall along partisan lines).

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