Senate Democrats offer draft of telco bill p. 37

By: Debra Gersh Hernandez NOW THAT SENATE Democrats have introduced their draft of a telecommunications bill, work has begun on reconciling it with the Republican version.
Unlike its 82-page Republican counterpart, the Senate Democrats' 99-page draft bill includes detailed electronic publishing provisions sought by newspapers in the last Congress, especially the access, rates and fair competition provisions for weekly and community papers.
"We're pleased that the drafters have seen fit to be concerned for fair competition on the information highway," said National Newspaper Association president and CEO Tonda Rush.
The chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), released the Republican draft at a briefing a few weeks ago (E&P, Feb. 11, p. 12).
At a Capitol Hill press conference introducing the Democrats' draft a few weeks later, Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) and other Democratic committee members urged the chairman to pursue bipartisan legislation.
"If we do bipartisan legislation, we really have to do it together," commented Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). "It is possible, because the bill passed [in committee] so strongly last year, and we so desperately want to pass it this year."
Hollings chaired the Commerce Committee last year and now serves as its ranking Democrat. He is the chief author of the Democrats' 1995 draft and sponsored last year's bill, S. 1822, which was passed by the committee 18-2, but because of last-minute politicking was withdrawn before a vote on the floor.


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