Stupak Bill Would Let FCC Commissioners Meet Privately

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) has introduced a bill to allow more than two FCC commissioners to to meet privately, so long as there is at least one commissioner from each party in the room and the meeting's content is disclosed to the public.

A number of commissioners have argued for letting commissioners get together to discuss issues, an issue on which former Republican chairman Kevin Martin and current Democratic commissioner Michael Copps agreed.

Currently, sunshine rules prevent more than two commissioners meeting in person outside of public meetings. That is because all meetings of federal agencies must be open if there is a quorum present, and since the FCC has five members, three represents a quorum.

The restriction has led to e-mail or staff-emissary exchanges or series of one-on-one meetings.

H.R. 4167, the Federal Communications Commission Collaboration Act, would expire after five years, so it would have to be reauthorized if Congress concluded it had been beneficial.

Back when Martin ran the commission, Stupak vetted FCC processes as chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. That commission was notable for long delays in meeting start-times as commissioners communicated changes and ferried questions about controversial items via staffers or written communications.

A spokesman for FCC chairman Julius Genachowski was unavailable for comment.

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