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State Telecom Regulators Urge ‘Sunshine Law’ Reform

in Broadband Updates/Broadband's Impact/FCC/States/Transparency by

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2010 -- Federal laws designed to guarantee public access to certain data should be revised to allow members of the Federal Communications Commission to meet more often and work together more efficiently, a group of state telecommunications regulators told members of a House committee in a Wednesday letter.

The letter was addressed to the chairmen and ranking members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

The state commissioners, including former National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Larry Landis of Indiana and Roy Baum of Oregon, are members of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service.

The board also has seats for two FCC commissioners. But the “sunshine rules” prevent a third FCC commissioner from sitting in on a joint board meeting. For more than two members of the FCC to meet -- even informally – there must be a series of public notices and a posted agenda a certain number of days before the meeting.

This structure was put in place to foster transparency and good government, but critics charge it has hampered the commission's ability to conduct business and solve problems by limiting the occurrence of spontaneous discussions among commissioners. The commissioners say the rules have hampered the ability of the commission to act quickly when dealing with emerging problems.

The letter encourages the House members to approve the Federal Communications Commission Collaboration Act, H.R. 4167. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who announced this month he will not run for re-election. The bill corrects "systemic problems" with the sunshine laws, the state commissioners say, and would resolve "significant inefficiencies and delay in the FCC administrative process."

Andrew Feinberg is the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

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