Washington - Mar 18, 2011 - Senator Olympia Snow (R-ME) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) have introduced Senate Bill 611, "A bill to provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners." The bill was introduced March 17. Senate Bill 611 is, in effect, a replacement bill for S.2881 that was introduced by the same two senators last year. That bill died as a result of procedural issues. The Society of Broadcast Engineers has been active in encouraging the introduction and eventual passing of this bill and has worked closely with Senator Snowe's office for more than a year.
The SBE has also been working to encourage a companion bill in the House. Earlier this week, a group of SBE leadership, led by SBE President Vinny Lopez, made 12 visits to congressional offices in Washington and received a favorable response from many of them.
The text of S.611 has not yet been released but it is expected to be similar to the 2010 bill, which was later coupled to a separate bill introduced by Senator Snow that called for a study of FCC engineering resources.
The primary objective of S.611 is to add scientific expertise at the FCC's policy level by authorizing each FCC Commissioner to add one additional professional assistant to the three they currently have. The bill would require that the new assistants be either electrical engineers or computer scientists. The three professional assistants each commissioner now has are either lawyers or economists.