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House legislation would overhaul FCC

Rep. Joe Barton, R-TX, has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would overhaul the FCC, making it more transparent and accountable to the public.

Barton is the former chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and now its ranking member. The FCC’s operations and chairman Kevin Martin’s leadership has been under investigation by the committee. It began after Martin pushed through new media ownership rules just before the 2007 Christmas holiday.

The legislation is called the FCC Procedural Reform for Openness and Clarity Encouraging Sensible Solutions Act . Among its provisions would be to offer the public at least 60 days to respond to proposed rule changes, modifications, or deletions. After that, the FCC would have to take at least 30 more days to consider the changes.

The bill would also require that all FCC commissioners have sufficient time to review the specific language or any changes to the language of any proposal. The goal of the legislation is to promote decision-making transparency; encourage public comment; improve decision-making; and improve general workflow.