cr> TAP-INFO letter: Public Review of Telecom Bill


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996
From: James Love <•••@••.•••>
To: Multiple recipients of list <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Put Telecom Bill on Net Before Vote

TAP-INFO - An Internet newsletter available from •••@••.•••
January 29, 1996

-    The following sign-on letter asks the congressional
     leadership to give the public at least 10 days to review the
     final version of the Telecom bill before there is a vote in
     either the House or the Senate.

-    There are reports that Senator Dole is pushing for a
     Thursday, February 1, 1996 vote on the bill, even though the
     Congress has yet to release a copy of the bill or the
     conference committee report.  Few members of Congress know
     what the bill does, and their constituents don't either,
     because they don't have a copy of the bill yet.

-    To sign the letter, send your Name, Affiliation, City and
     State and Zip, to James Love (•••@••.•••, fax 202/234-5176,
     voice 202/387-8030)

City, St, Zip:

the letter follows:

Bob Dole, Senate Majority Leader
Thomas Daschle, Senate Minority Leader
Representative Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House
Representative Dick Gephardt, House Minority Leader

Dear Sirs:

          We are writing to ask that no vote on the
Telecommunications bill (S. 652, HR 1555) take place until the
public is given at least 10 days to review a final version of the
bill and the conference report.  At present, the Congress has not
published any copy of the conference bill or the conference

     Drafts of both the conference report and the legislation
have circulated among lobbyists.  Indeed, the best known source
of information about the bills currently are the drafts which are
available from the large Regional Bell Operating Companies
(RBOCs), which have their own Internet Web site ( to
assist their own lobbying efforts.  Judging from the materials
which are available from the telephone companies, the draft
conference report on the legislation is incomplete and contains
some errors.  For example, in the section describing cross-ownership
rules for broadcast stations, the conference report
omits the fact that the legislation would specify the number of
radio stations that one entity could own a particular markets (up
to 50 percent of the stations in some cases).  Small businesses
which are concerned about the entry barriers for new high
technology information services say that the draft conference
report incorrectly asserts that changes in the interconnection
sections of the legislation were previously approved by the House
of Representatives. We have heard that the conference bill has
been modified several times, but only the best connected
lobbyists have copies of the new drafts.  Moreover, we are unsure
when or if the draft conference report will be corrected.

     We are simply asking that Congress take the time to publish
the final conference report and bill, and make these documents
available to general public for a decent amount of time (at least
10 days) before the bills are voted upon.

     The public does have a right to better access to
Congressional documents before votes are taken.  In a November
11, 1994 speech to the Washington Research Group Symposium, which
was reprinted in his book, "Contract With America," Speaker
Gingrich promised that

     "we will change the rules of the House to require that
     all documents and all conference reports and all
     committee reports be filed electronically as well as in
     writing and that they cannot be filed until they are
     available to any citizen who wants to pull them up.
     Thus, information will be available to any citizen in
     the country at the same moment it is available to the
     highest paid Washington lobbyist."

     While this promise only concerns the House of
Representatives, it should be implemented for the Senate as well.
Certainly in this case there is nothing to be gained from a hasty
vote on the measure, except to reinforce the public perception
that the general public has little to say about these matters.
We should not have to turn to the telephone companies to find out
what our Congress is doing.

     Because of the enormous impact of the legislation on
consumers and small businesses, we urge you to make the
conference report and bill available to the public, at least 10
days before a vote is take on the measure by either chamber.


... send sign-on info to James Love, Consumer Protect on Technology

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 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 Materials may be reposted in their entirety for non-commercial use.