New bipartisan Senate legislation being put forward by Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Mark Warner (D-VA) would give FCC commissioners – who tend to be surrounded by legal types – a new staff position for a technical adviser. The new hire would be an expert in either electrical engineering or computer science.
Currently, the commissioners are allowed three professional assistants and a secretary. The professionals have tended to be legal advisors specializing one each in wireline, wireless and media issues.
“Given the rapid advancement of technologies and innovation within the telecommunications industry, it is essential that Commissioners have in-house technical expertise to make well informed regulatory decisions,” said Snowe. “This legislation is a common-sense initiative that will guarantee each Commissioner has a technical expert on staff to provide detailed analysis on some of the most cutting-edge issues affecting the communications industry today.”
Warner added, “This will give commissioners access to the best information possible, from all relevant disciplines, and in a timely manner – which is critical in making well-informed decisions.”
Both Senators are members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which would be the bill’s first stop as it works its way through the legislative process.
RBR-TVBR observation: Is Christmas coming early for the commissioners? Well, no, not really, no laws have been passed. But this is the second bill proposed recently that will help the commissioners out. The other was Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) bill to allow three or more commissioners to meet privately, a simple act they lack the legal authority to engage in at this time.