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Walden, Heller Introducing FCC Reform Regs

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is teaming with Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to introduce what they bill as "sensible" FCC reform legislation.

The Republican initiative is meant to "improve the way the Federal Communications Commission operates by improving transparency, predictability," according to the pair.

Walden held an FCC oversight hearing in June that made it clear House Republicans wanted to move on a discussion draft of an FCC reform bill.

Republicans generally want to create shot clocks for action; require the commission to launch inquiries whenever it proposes rules; always print the text of orders before adopting them, essentially requiring the FCC to hew deadlines and stricter standards of justifying and implementing regs, including market and cost-benefit analyses; and make the regulatory standard more about preventing harms than an "indeterminate" public interest standard.

Walden and Heller said Tuesday in announcing the bill's Wednesday introduction that it was meant to "to ensure the commission's work encourages job creation, investment, or innovation in the sector."

Those are all things FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said he has been promoting, including by undertaking a regulator review of his own, trimming some regs -- including striking the Republicans' hated fairness doctrine from the books, pulling the plug on some data-collection requirements, and eyeing other regulatory reforms per the president's request that independent agencies vet regulations for their impact on jobs or the economy.

At that June hearing, Walden praised Genachowski for publishing the text of proposed rules, releasing orders "shortly" after they are adopted -- often days rather than weeks or longer -- and for proposing to eliminate outdated regs," but he also said that should not preclued a congressional effort to make those practices mandatory. "It's not asking too much to have the FCC actually codify a set of best practices and operate by them," he said.

For his part, Heller, following the president's executive order on regulatory reforms, sought to make sure the FCC joined the executive agencies in ferreting out unnecessary regs. The order did not apply to independent agencies, but the White House strongly encouraged them to follow suit, eventually clarifying that that meant to publish a reg review plan, which the FCC agreed to do.

Genachowski has pointed out that the FCC had already been reviewing regs independently of that request.