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May Madness

May 2, 2006 , ,

With the days quickly ticking off the legislative clock, bills are being introduced left and right on matters PK cares about the most. Yesterday, Senator Ted Stevens, with reluctant co-sponsorship from this Commerce Committee Co-Chair Daniel Inouye, introduced comprehensive telecommunications reform. Alex has already discussed it in detail. I will say no more other than it needs a lot of work.

Today, Rep. Ed Markey introduced the “Network Neutrality Act of 2006,” which is essentially the text of the amendment he and 3 other Democrats unsuccessfully introduced during the subcommittee and full committee mark-ups of the House telecom reform bill. As you can see by our statement, this amendment is exactly what is needed to preserve an open Internet — prohibitions against discrimination by a network provider, allowances for legitimate network management, and a complaint process that ensures compliance. We expect Senators Snowe and Dorgan to introduce a companion bill tomorrow in the Senate. I blogged about that bill, which was a draft at the time. As soon as the final bill becomes available, we will post it.

A lot of folks have been asking me why Mr. Markey would reintroduce a bill that has already been rejected twice. The main reason, I think, is to rally the pro-NN troops in anticipation for the floor debate on the House bill — we got slaughtered in subcommittee, but came back nicely in full committee, narrowing the gap considerably. So it is important to continue building the momentum so that this bill will be considered and passed as an amendment to the larger bill.

Stay tuned also to the House Judiciary Committee, which wants a piece of telecom reform as well. The larger House bill was supposed to go to the floor this Thursday for a vote, but Judiciary is asking the House leadership for a “referral,” which means they would like to provide their own input. This will do nothing if not slow down the process considerably.

As if this were not enough, today Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a terrific bill called the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006.. This bill is what open access publishing advocates like PK's own Peter Suber have been working on for years. The bill would require the largest research grant making agencies to condition their research grants on the free, online availability of the results of that research no less than 6 months after publication. This would finally give taxpayers a return on the research funded by their dollars. Here is our statement.